As a Dayton Bankruptcy attorney, married couples often ask if it is better to file bankruptcy individually or to file joint bankruptcy. Still other times, married couples don’t even realize that you can file for individual bankruptcy while married. The answer to which is highly individualized and depends on a number of factors including the property, debt, income, and expense you both share, as well as, whose name the real and personal property resides under. In this article, we’ll outline the advantages and disadvantages of filing a joint bankruptcy and how it differs from filing individually.
Filing a Joint Bankruptcy Petition
The beginning of the journey to extinguish debts via bankruptcy is the bankruptcy petition. The petition is in actuality a vast collection of documents outlining you and your spouse’s complete financial picture, to include, debt, income, expenses, and property owned. In a joint bankruptcy petition, all property should be listed in the bankruptcy petition, whereas, when filing individually, you would keep any property in your spouse’s name separate. One benefit of a joint bankruptcy petition is that you can eliminate dischargeable debt of both individuals using a single bankruptcy case.
Ohio Joint Bankruptcy Exemptions
Exemptions are laws in the US Bankruptcy Code that allow you to protect certain property from being liquidated by the bankruptcy trustee to pay back your creditors. Several states offer the choice between choosing a set of state bankruptcy exemptions or federal exemptions. If you live in a state with this choice, such as in Ohio, it adds an element to strategy to your case that a bankruptcy lawyer can certainly assist you with. One advantage that an Ohio Bankruptcy has over bankruptcy in other states is the ability to “double up” on exemptions when filing a joint bankruptcy.
As an example of the double exemptions, let’s say you and your wife both own a vehicle. The Ohio bankruptcy exemption for a motor vehicle is $3,775, and therefore you can exempt that amount from both vehicles instead of just one. The same holds true for all the Ohio bankruptcy exemptions.
Benefits and Disadvantages of Joint Bankruptcy
By consolidating two bankruptcies into one, you will ultimately lower the overall cost of bankruptcy, enhance the efficiency of the bankruptcy case, and wipe out both of your dischargeable debts. Not only do you get a better deal but both you and your spouse will have a fresh start versus one spouse having Sevier debt hanging over their head. Oppositely, there are a few setbacks to joint bankruptcy. If one spouse owns too much property, it could negatively affect the other by “using up” all the exemptions. When considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy, one spouse having more priority debt such as tax obligations or child support could increase the amount the second spouse has to pay.
Consult a Bankruptcy Lawyer for Joint Filing
So as you can see, as long as you and your spouse have a similar amount of debt and property there aren’t too many other reasons why you shouldn’t file joint bankruptcy as a married couple instead of individually. Whether you and your spouse decide to file together or individually, you should consult a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney to ensure you keep your property and discharge the maximum amount of debt allowed by the US Bankruptcy Code.