When you are considering filing for bankruptcy and have recently gotten married, you may be wondering how your marriage will affect filing for bankruptcy. One significant change now is that you will be able to file jointly with your spouse if you wish to do so. An experienced bankruptcy attorney understands that filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision and you want to know if this is a wise decision to make with your spouse. While bankruptcy can be beneficial for many people, it can also become slightly more complicated when you get married.
Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
When you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you and your spouse will need to qualify using the means test. This means that whichever state you live in, your income will be compared to other household incomes within the same state. You will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if your income is less than the median income in other comparable households. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be trickier because when you file as a married person, you will need to include both your income and your spouse’s income, regardless of whether you file jointly or as an individual. Thus, even if you both qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy unmarried, you may not qualify for Chapter 7 with a combined income.
How does being married positively affect filing for bankruptcy?
On the other hand, when you are married and you and your spouse decide to file for bankruptcy jointly, this can mean that you both get more of your debts wiped out than you would if you were filing for bankruptcy independently. It also means that you can file one petition for bankruptcy together and attend the same hearings in court. You may also save money in court fees and working with an attorney.
What if I file independently?
If you decide to file for bankruptcy but your spouse does not need to, this means that only you will need to go to court hearings and your spouse’s separate property will not be in danger when you disclose your assets. The exception to this is if you and your spouse are in a community property estate. This means that any community property shared between you and your spouse would then go into the bankruptcy estate.
If you have more questions about filing for bankruptcy as a married couple, please reach out to a lawyer, like a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer, to answer questions and start the filing process.