Will Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse?
Updated: Sep 30, 2020
If you are married filing single, you will eventually come across this question and like most in bankruptcy, it has several answers. You can file without your spouse, but if it affects them depends on several factors.
1. Are your debts, whether they be property or debts, joint?
2. Florida is not a community property state so you can file separately. Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin are community property states so be sure to consult an attorney in those states.
3. Are you filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13?
The good news is, just because you're married does not mean your spouse shares all of your debt. They only share the debts that are joint. This means the debts that were incurred by the filing spouse will be discharged without repercussions to the non-filing spouse. Also, the non-filing spouse's credit report should not be affected in any way. If there is any reports of the bankruptcy that show up on the credit report, contact the credit reporting agency immediately. However...
Joint debt means the debt was incurred together. The non-filing spouse will still be responsible for the debt. Also, if you live in one of the community property states listed above, this means all of your debts and property are community and owned by both spouses. This can significantly impact your non-filing spouse.
There is an option to file a Chapter 13. There is a Chapter 13 stay that protects the codebtor from creditors but only if the debt is being repaid in the debtor's Chapter 13 plan. They can request to have the stay lifted if the plan payments are not maintained. You can learn a little more about Chapter 13 plans here.
It is absolutely possible to be married and file single. Just be sure to do your research and ask questions. Ask a professional for help. The fresh start you need is right at your fingertips.