file for bankruptcy without spouse

Can I File for Bankruptcy Without My Spouse?

Choosing to file bankruptcy is a major step, and if your spouse isn’t on board, you may be wondering what your options are. This is actually fairly common—one spouse may want to admit that they’re in over their head, while the other wants to continue paying on their debt until it’s completely paid off. However, choosing to file alone does have consequences, and it may or may not be the right choice for you.

Learn more about how filing alone could affect you and your spouse. To talk about your next steps and what’s best for you, call Padgett & Robertson at 251-336-3695.

What the Law Says

To start, you can legally file for bankruptcy on your own without your spouse. There is a difference, though, between something being legal and something being a good choice for you.

Filing as a single person versus filing alone as a married person are two very different experiences, and your choice to file bankruptcy could have a ripple effect on your personal finances and your spouse’s financial well-being. Much depends on the type and amount of debt you have, who is responsible for that debt, and the assets you and your spouse have.

Benefits of Filing Alone

There are some situations in which filing alone may be the better choice for you. If you and your spouse are careful about keeping your finances completely separate, filing alone may be similar to a single person filing bankruptcy. If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement outlining responsibility for the debts, that may also benefit the partner who does not have debt.

If your spouse has filed for bankruptcy recently and is not yet eligible to file again, filing alone may be your only option—otherwise, you’ll have to wait until they qualify for another discharge.

You may also want to file bankruptcy if your spouse is likely to receive an inheritance in the coming months. When someone files for bankruptcy, any inheritance they receive within 180 days of filing can be sold and used to pay off debts. If you file alone, your spouse’s inheritance is safe from the bankruptcy estate.

When Filing Alone May Be the Wrong Choice

There are also situations in which filing alone doesn’t really make sense or can have a negative effect on your partner. If you and your spouse have joint debts, there’s no way to get around it—your filing for bankruptcy will have an impact on them.

While bankruptcy (and the automatic stay in the interim) will protect you from having to pay those debts, nothing stops creditors from coming after your spouse who is also responsible for the debt. While creditors will be legally required to stop calling you and eventually will discharge the debt for you, your spouse is still on the hook for those payments. Even if they can afford to make those payments, consider the impact this may have on your marriage and on your finances as a whole.

Filing alone may also be the wrong choice for you if you and your spouse’s assets are commingled and they have a substantial amount of assets. In these situations, your spouse’s income and assets may be considered part of the bankruptcy estate. They can then be seized, sold, and used to pay off your debts before the remaining balance is discharged.

How Filing Alone May Affect Your Spouse

Your choice to file bankruptcy could have a negative impact on your spouse’s credit score. While they’re likely to preserve their credit if you keep your debts and assets separate, joint debts could become the sole responsibility of your spouse after your debt is discharged.

This may put a huge financial burden on them as they are forced to cover other expenses while also paying your discharged debts. Again, even if this is legally permitted, you have to think about what it may mean for your marriage.

Explore Your Options with Padgett & Robertson

Not sure what comes next or what is the best choice for your future? We’re ready to sit down, take a look at your finances, and make a plan. Whether it’s chapter 7 bankruptcy, or chapter 13 bankruptcy, just contact us online or call us at 251-336-3695 to set up a consultation now.

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