A joint petition is when a married couple file a single bankruptcy petition. The couple must be married on the date of the filing. Filing bankruptcy together saves on filing fees and lawyer costs, and it also wipes out the separate debts you and your spouse owe as well as debt created together.
If all the debt was incurred before the marriage, there is no reason to file jointly as the other spouse will not be responsible for the debt. If you file alone with marital debt, the creditors can legally go after your spouse or ex-spouse for payment on the debt. Conversely, If an ex-spouse files for bankruptcy, their creditors may still come after you to pay the debt
Giving Away Assets
If you do decide to file separately, be careful about what you transfer to your nonfiling spouse. The trustee may find that to be fraudulent and retrieve the property to be liquidated in the bankruptcy.
If you live in a community property state, your spouse’s bankruptcy will include half of the jointly held marital property as well as their separate property.
One reason to file separately is if one spouse has good credit. The bankruptcy could stay on your credit report for up to ten years, having a line of credit available to your spouse can save you high-interest rates if you were to try to get a loan soon after bankruptcy.
If you are considering filing for divorce and bankruptcy at the same time and you don’t have much property, you might want to consider filing Chapter 7 while still married, and it will take 3 to 5 months to complete and qualifying marital debt will be eliminated.If there is a property you would like to keep you may want to file Chapter 13, the problem with that is you will need to work together for three to five years to complete the repayment plan.
If you and your spouse are considering bankruptcy, or an ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy without you, contact a Columbus bankruptcy attorney today to find out how to protect yourself from additional debt.