Bankruptcy for Married Couples

Can You File Without Your Spouse? Should You?

Bankruptcy for Married CouplesIt’s not uncommon for spouses to each have their own separate finances, with individual bank accounts and debts. Accordingly, it’s also not uncommon for one spouse to experience financial difficulties while the other does not. Bankruptcy can be the best solution to help a struggling spouse get a fresh start, but it also will have a negative impact. If the other spouse has a solid credit record, they may not want to hurt it by filing bankruptcy jointly. Fortunately, the law allows a spouse to file individually, without the other spouse.

As a general rule, married couples can choose to file for bankruptcy jointly or separately. A caveat, though—even if you file individually, you must include the non-filing spouse’s income in the “means test” calculation to determine whether you qualify to permanently discharge debts in Chapter 7. You may exclude a spouse’s income only if you are legally separated when you file. You may, however, deduct some of your spouse’s income from the calculation:

  • Payroll deductions, such as health care benefits, payroll taxes, and retirement plan contributions won’t count;
  • The non-filing spouse’s financial obligations for student loans, credit cards, and similar debt may be deducted; and
  • Alimony or child support paid by a spouse can be excluded from the calculation.

Should You File Individually?

The obvious situation when an individual filing offers significant benefit is when one party has outstanding credit and the other does not.

But can an individual filing also be used to protect jointly-owned property? Unfortunately, because Texas is a community property state, all marital assets are part of the bankruptcy estate, even if only one party files. Accordingly, you won’t be able to protect more property by filing separately in Texas.

Contact an Experienced Rockwall, Texas, Bankruptcy Attorney

At the Law Offices of Carrie Weir, all potential clients are entitled to a free initial consultation. I am currently communicating with clients by phone, text message, or videoconference. To arrange an appointment, contact my office online or call 972-772-3083. I handle Texas personal bankruptcy filings in Rockwall County, Collin County, Dallas County, Hunt County, and surrounding counties.

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Call Rockwall bankruptcy lawyer Carrie Weir at 972-772-3083 or fill out the contact from below for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your options.

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