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Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC

Does My Spouse Have to File Bankruptcy With Me?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: March 30, 2014

A common question we receive concerns the situation where someone has been married for a short period of time and has separate debts that they need to handle. The questions is “Can I be married and file a bankruptcy on my own?”

The short answer is “Yes.” Every week we have people that are married file a separate bankruptcy for their debts. However, there are a few things that come into play.

First, all income of the marriage is counted toward determining what type of bankruptcy that you qualify for under the Means Test. All income of the marriage determines your disposable income.

Second, you have to disclose all separate property and community property. When a couple has joint accounts, both spouses are not required to file bankruptcy—one spouse can still file for bankruptcy as an individual. While the non-filing spouse’s credit score should not be affected by the other spouse’s bankruptcy, he or she may still benefit from speaking with a bankruptcy attorney.

When you decided to become jointly liable for a debt, you agreed to be liable for the debt on your own in the event your spouse’s liability is extinguished. Creditors are not allowed to contact your spouse about the debt once the bankruptcy process has begun, but they can still collect from you since you are now the sole party liable for the debt.

If you can keep up the payments and make good on the joint debt, then your credit will not be affected by a spousal filing. But if you can’t keep up with the payments, it will adversely affect your credit and you too may be forced into bankruptcy.

In general, if you are filing an individual bankruptcy in an attempt to emerge from bankruptcy with a set of credit scores unscathed, you will only succeed if the accounts are individual accounts. If any debt is shared debt, you are going to have to pay it anyway. A bankruptcy attorney can tell you how to protect an non-filing spouse in the event of a spouse’s filing.

Here is the good news…It is free to meet with bankruptcy attorney Christopher A. Benson to find out your options and your benefits. So, it is definitely worth it to take the time to find out how to take control of your financial situation.

Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped over 2,300 of Washington clients take control of their financial situation. We can stop your garnishment and change your monthly payments for all your combined unsecured debt, and if you have had more than $600 garnished within the last 90 days, we can get all of the money back in most cases. But you have to act quickly–call (253) 815-6940 for your free consultation, or email us today. Evening and weekend appointments available.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More