Will My Spouse Filing Bankruptcy Affect Me?
Can one spouse’s bankruptcy not involve the other spouse? The answer is yes, one spouse can file bankruptcy without affecting the other spouse. However, filing bankruptcy without your spouse can change debt obligations for your spouse and the ability to keep property.
Married spouses share a number of things jointly such as cars, a home, and other property. However, there is no requirement that if one spouse files a bankruptcy the other must join in.
Many times, one spouse can get into financial problems and require assistance with the debt via bankruptcy. In such situations, the non-filing spouse bears no risk that their credit score will be affected by the filing spouse.
Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 for Single Bankruptcy Filing?
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are different from one another. Choosing whether to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 as a single spouse will depend on the following:
• When filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the other spouse’s income must be included.
• In Florida, spouses wishing to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy have specific income requirements that must be met to qualify.
• If the spouses combined income exceeds the income level threshold for a Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 may be the only viable option.
In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a bankruptcy trustee will require a monthly payment plan. Income from the non-filing spouse will be used to establish the monthly amount for the repayment plan. The filing spouse can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without including the other spouse or obtaining the other spouse's consent. However, only the personal obligations of the filing spouse will be discharged. As a result, the non-filing spouse would still be obligated to repay any jointly held debt.
Bankruptcy rules are more complex for married spouses who file alone. When property and assets are jointly owned, they will be considered by the bankruptcy trustee. This may result in using the jointly owned property and assets in the repayment of creditor debts. How this is resolved depends on the particular circumstances of the case and the type of property involved. Due to the complexity of Chapter 13 bankruptcies, an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney should assist you.
One Spouse Filing Bankruptcy in Florida
If you are married and contemplating filing bankruptcy without your spouse you may have a choice of bankruptcy type. You may be able to file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 depending on whether you meet the requirements. The type of bankruptcy filing that is ideal for your situation depends on a few factors. For instance, filing either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy both spouse’s incomes are considered.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, assets are liquidated by the debtor to pay creditors. The main criteria in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are not to exceed the income level (both spouses) set by law.
Debt relief under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a trustee creating a monthly payment plan based on the income of both spouses, which will be used to pay debts over a period of 36 to 60 months.
How the Filing Spouse’s Bankruptcy Can Affect the Other Spouse?
How the bankruptcy filing of one spouse affects the other spouse will depend on several factors. The first factor is how the assets are owned or titled. The second factor is whether both spouses are in debt. For example, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, vehicles and real estate owned by both spouses jointly will become part of the bankruptcy estate. The joint assets may be sold and the proceeds will be used to pay debts of creditors. If there are jointly held debts and only one spouse files, only the debts of the filing spouse will be discharge. As a result, the non-filing spouse will be stuck with the debts.
An advantage for married couples with only one bankruptcy filing is that only one spouse’s credit will take a hit. This can be crucial if the married couple plans on making a large purchase in the future.
Filing Bankruptcy Jointly in Florida
Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy while married is comparable to filing your taxes while married. This can be accomplished either jointly or individually. Determining which bankruptcy is best for you depends on the type of debts that you have jointly with your spouse and individual debts.
Generally, if your debts are individual debts and your spouse carries no debt, it may be best to file for bankruptcy without your spouse. A couple filing jointly may be preferable if a majority of the debts were jointly incurred by the married couple.
Choosing to file bankruptcy with your spouse jointly could save time and money. However, whether this is the right way to go depends on your situation. Consider working with an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney who understands the nuances of the legal system. A competent bankruptcy attorney who has worked with many clients can help you achieve a favorable outcome.