Should I File for Joint Bankruptcy If I am Married?

Speak with a Morris County Bankruptcy Lawyer for Answers to Your Debt Questions

Married couples have the option to face bankruptcy together using a method of debt relief known as joint bankruptcy. Joint bankruptcy allows a married couple to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 as if they were an individual filing for bankruptcy. However, both spouses must disclose their debts, property, income and expenses, no matter if the spouses own these assets jointly or individually. This type of bankruptcy can be beneficial for many married couples, but in some circumstances, individual bankruptcy may still be the better option. Those who are married and considering bankruptcy should understand and fully explore their debt relief options before deciding to file for individual or joint bankruptcy.

When is Joint Bankruptcy the Best Option?

In most cases, a joint bankruptcy is the best option when both people in a marriage have significant debts and are considering filing for individual bankruptcy. In this case, a joint bankruptcy can:

  • Reduce the Cost of Bankruptcy – Since bankruptcy filing fees are the same for individuals as they are for married couples, filing one joint bankruptcy petition can significantly cut the costs of bankruptcy fees. It can also reduce any other costs associated with bankruptcy, since two people are sharing the costs of one bankruptcy case.
  • Make the Process More Efficient – Filing a joint bankruptcy means that a married couple only needs to file one set of financial documentation. They can attend the required hearing with a bankruptcy trustee together as well.

If one spouse files for bankruptcy but the other does not, the spouse who is not filing is still responsible for all of his or her individual debts. By filing jointly, couples can wipe out any dischargeable debts and take on the bankruptcy with their shared assets and incomes.

When is Joint Bankruptcy Not the Best Option?

Every bankruptcy situation is unique, and deciding between joint or individual bankruptcy is up to the married couple. However, if one spouse owns a disproportionate amount of property, both spouses may not be able to exempt all the property they want to keep. In this case, the spouse with less property may benefit from filing alone in order to retain more property.

Additionally, if one spouse has a large amount of priority debts, this can make a Chapter 13 plan more difficult for the spouse with few or no priority debts. Since priority debts must be repaid completely under the Chapter 13 plan, this can greatly increase the plan payments.

I Need to Talk to a Lawyer in New Jersey About Joint Bankruptcy

The Morris County bankruptcy attorneys at Ast & Schmidt, PC can help you determine whether filing for joint bankruptcy is right for your financial situation. Our experienced Morris County bankruptcy lawyers have assisted individuals and families dealing with debt for decades. We can find the debt solution that would benefit your financial troubles the most. Reach out to us today for a free consultation about your bankruptcy options.

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