Should My Spouse and I File Jointly or Only One of Us For Bankruptcy?

Filing for bankruptcy can be as confusing as it is worrisome. When done incorrectly, a couple could lose most of their belongings. However, with a bit of planning, and with the assistance of a skilled lawyer, a couple can clear their debts and maximize the amount of property they retain.

The Mechanics and Results of Filing for Bankruptcy Jointly

When a couple files for joint bankruptcy, the assets and property of both spouses are included in the bankruptcy estate. Joint bankruptcy also includes all debts from both spouses. Filing for joint bankruptcy can be beneficial when both spouses are facing debt, as the bankruptcy can be resolved in one process. The couple will only have to worry about paying one filing fee and hiring a single lawyer. Joint filing is advised when the couple lives in a community state (I.e. California, Nevada) and amassed most of their debt during their marriage. In this instance, the spouses can clear their separate debts and decide what to do with their jointly-owned property. Another instance where joint bankruptcy is beneficial is when the couple lives in a state that permits double exemptions. Double exemptions will allow the couple to retain more of their property after the bankruptcy is finished.

The Mechanics and Results of Filing for Bankruptcy Separately

When a couple files for separate bankruptcies, all of each spouse’s separately-owned property and all jointly-owned property are considered part of the bankruptcy estate. Filing separately is required when one spouse has a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the past eight years or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within the past six years, as that spouse will not be eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Separate bankruptcies may be required when the spouses are legally separated. Some states exempt certain types of property when the spouses file separately. Another instance where filing separately would be a better option is when one spouse has most or all of the debt, and the couple does not jointly own anything of significant value.

The Williams Litigation Group has extensive experience in bankruptcy law. Our team of legal experts can advise married couples in Brunswick, GA, on the best way to file bankruptcy. If you and your spouse would like to know more about protecting your assets during the bankruptcy process, call our office at 866-214-7036, or fill out our contact form. Serving Brunswick, GA and Glynn, Camden, Brantley, Wayne, Ware and McIntosh Counties.