If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, one of the first things that you need to decide is whether you’re going to do so as an individual or whether you and your spouse are going to file together. You can file for bankruptcy on your own even if you are married, but you do want to understand how doing so will affect your spouse.
Your Spouse Isn’t Responsible for Your Personal Debt
While you are both responsible for any debt that the two of you incur together, your spouse isn’t responsible for any debt you incurred before you married or that you take on in your name only. For example, they aren’t responsible for the car loan you took out in your name the year before you were married or for the student loans in your name you took out two years after you married.
How Will Your Spouse be Affected?
If you file for bankruptcy as an individual, only your income and debts will be a part of the bankruptcy. Joint debts can be considered part of the bankruptcy, but your spouse will still have to make payments on them since they aren’t going through bankruptcy.
You also need to know if you live in a common law or community property state. In common law states, your half of the property you own jointly will be considered in the bankruptcy. This means that it’s possible the entire property will be sold to cover your debts if it can’t be divided. However, your spouse will receive a portion of the sale equal to their value in the property.
In a community property state, all of your joint debt and even your joint income are seen as communal property by the court. All of your joint property and assets will be considered during bankruptcy. Bankruptcies in community property states greatly impact the spouse’s credit, even if they’re not filing for bankruptcy.
However, your spouse’s credit report should not be affected. If it does should up that they have filed for bankruptcy, you will need to contact the various credit reporting agencies and have the bankruptcy removed.
Work with an Expert
You never want to file bankruptcy without a legal expert by your side. The legal team at Michael F. Kanzer & Associates can guide you through the bankruptcy process and make sure your spouse is protected. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.