You can file bankruptcy without your spouse, but some factors should be considered such as whether you are solely responsible for the assets or debts involved in the proposed filing. Such items could include:
- Credit cards (or credit card debt)
- Other forms of debt
- A piece of property
- A business
When You Should File Without Your Spouse
Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult process, both financially and emotionally. It is natural that you should wish to protect someone you love from such an ordeal—and, in some bankruptcy cases, you can do so by filing individually rather than as a couple.
A bankruptcy lawyer in your area can advise you as to when and how you can file bankruptcy without your spouse. Examples of such circumstances could include the following:
- You and your spouse have separate credit cards. You are struggling to pay off your credit card debt, which you are solely responsible for and which your spouse has nothing to do with.
- You own a business that your spouse plays no part in. If the business flounders, that is your responsibility, not your spouse’s. You could therefore file alone.
- You are in medical debt and have no way of paying it off, even if your spouse tried to help. You decide to file bankruptcy individually to protect your spouse’s assets.
When to File With Your Spouse
There may be some situations where you and your spouse should—or must—file for bankruptcy as a couple. For example, if you co-own a struggling business or share a substantial number of assets, you should at least consider filing as a couple.
If your spouse is a co-debtor on any of your debts, your decision to file for bankruptcy will certainly affect their financial future, even if you file alone. As soon as you realize that you are in financial peril, you should bring this up with your spouse.
Being Honest With Your Spouse About Bankruptcy
Whether you intend to file individually or as a couple, never leave your spouse in the dark when it comes to your financial situation. When you talk to your spouse about bankruptcy, be sure to:
- Let them in on the process of considering bankruptcy. Tell them why you believe bankruptcy is the best (or only) option to protect your family’s assets.
- Explain how bankruptcy will affect your spouse. For example, you will have to disclose your spouse’s financial assets to the court, even if they do not file for bankruptcy with you.
- Highlight the possibilities opened up by filing bankruptcy. As stressful as the process is, bankruptcy could lift the burden of debt hanging over you and give you a chance at a clean slate.
- Tell them that you have hired (or intend to hire) a bankruptcy attorney to help you with your case. Knowing that a legal professional is on your side can make you both feel less anxious.
There is no shame or embarrassment in filing for bankruptcy. It can, however, be difficult to remember this fact when you are in the midst of filing a petition or explaining the situation to your spouse.
If you are having a hard time dealing with the impending bankruptcy, it is okay to seek support from your spouse, a friend, or a mental health professional. They can help you work through any negative feelings or confusion regarding your situation.
Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me 828.286.3866
Filing Bankruptcy With a Lawyer
Whether you decide to file individually or with your spouse, you should talk to a bankruptcy lawyer before taking any action. This is because a bankruptcy attorney:
- Is familiar with bankruptcy laws in your state and can advise you on which type of bankruptcy to file for—or even if you should file at all
- Can do all of the actual filing for you, so you do not have to worry about finding the right forms or sending them to the right places
- Can speak with your creditors on your behalf, so you do not have to face them alone
- Knows how to create a repayment plan that can convince creditors to give you more time or even reduce what you owe
- Can stand by your side from the beginning of your case to the very end
A bankruptcy lawyer can even help you make the all-important decision of whether you should file as an individual or as a couple. While this is never an easy decision, you may experience less uncertainty and regret if you receive advice from an attorney before committing yourself to any course of action.
What Kinds of Bankruptcy You Can File
Per the U.S. Courts, there are several different kinds of bankruptcy that you can file as an individual. These include:
- Chapter 7: The big advantage of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you receive a complete discharge or forgiveness of debts. Most people in Chapter 7 get to keep all of their assets instead of having to sell them off to pay the debt.
- Chapter 12: This kind of bankruptcy is reserved for family farmers and fishermen. It is typically less complex and less expensive than other chapters.
- Chapter 13: Those who file Chapter 13 generally still have a steady income to draw from; they just need a little extra time in which to pay their debts. Chapter 13 requires you to come up with a plan for repaying your creditors.
If you decide to file bankruptcy jointly with your spouse, you may select from these same chapters.
Again, it is a good idea to consult a bankruptcy law firm before making any decisions. In some cases, an attorney can even help you avoid bankruptcy by taking advantage of an available alternative, such as negotiating with your creditors.
Let Us Help You File for Bankruptcy
Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC wants you to know that you can file for bankruptcy without your spouse, or you can file together. It all depends on your situation and what you and your spouse want to do. Our team can help you decide which type of bankruptcy is right for you—or if you should not file for bankruptcy at all. Call today for a free consultation.