3 Things to Consider Before Filing for Bankruptcy Alone if You Are Married
If you are married and have a lot of debt, you could file for bankruptcy with your spouse or by yourself. It is often better to file jointly; however, filing alone is fine in some situations. If your spouse is against filing for any reason, you could still go through with filing on your own, but there are several things you should know before you do this. Here are three important things to think through before you file alone.
Your Spouse's Income Will Matter
If you think that filing alone will not affect or involve your spouse at all, think again. Before you can file for bankruptcy, you will have to meet with an attorney to determine if you are eligible for it. This meeting will determine whether you meet the requirements for Chapter 7, or if you will need to use Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often the preferred option, because it allows you to eliminate debts without paying them, but not everyone qualifies for this. If your income is too high, you may be limited to using Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which will require a repayment plan for three to five years.
When you meet with an attorney to see which one you qualify for, the attorney will need to know how much income your household has. This not only includes your income, but it will also include your spouse's income. Because of this, your spouse will automatically be involved, and he or she will have to give you paystubs from his or her job. You will need these to see which branch of bankruptcy you qualify for.
Joint Debts Will Not Disappear
The second thing to be aware of is that joint debts will not go away if you file for Chapter 7 alone. While Chapter 7 allows your debts to be discharged, your creditors can easily go after the other person listed on the debts. For example, if you have a credit card debt of $10,000 in both names, you can get the debt discharged through your bankruptcy; however, the credit card company will come after your spouse afterwards.
The credit card company cannot legally come after you for a debt included in a bankruptcy, but they can come after anyone else on the debt. This means that if you have joint debts, filing for bankruptcy will not really solve your problems.
You Will Have to Pay Twice if Your Spouse Decides to File Later
You are legally allowed to file for bankruptcy alone if you are married, but there are many reasons why it is better to file together. One of the main reasons is to get rid of joint debts, but another reason is to save money on fees.
When you file for bankruptcy, the lawyer you hire is likely to charge you a standard fee. This fee covers the court-filing fees involved, and it covers the lawyer's salary for handling the case. One thing to understand is that most attorneys charge the same rate for individual filers and married filers. In other words, if you file together, you will pay the same rate you would pay if you filed alone.
If you go through with filing alone and your spouse decides to file later on, you will be paying two sets of fees. The only way to avoid this is by filing jointly. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,500, which is why you should seriously consider if filing alone would really be the right option.
Getting advice from a bankruptcy lawyer is the best way to determine what to do in your situation. You can schedule an appointment with resources like Richard S. Ross - Bankruptcy Attorney.