Can One Spouse File Bankruptcy?
Thinking about getting married? If you have debt that you cannot afford to repay it makes a lot of sense to rid yourself of the debt BEFORE you get married because debt is one of the biggest reasons why people get divorced.
But if you are married and your spouse has incurred debt in his or her name only, he or she can file for bankruptcy without requiring you to do so as well. However, income and other asset information of the non-filing spouse is required in order to determine if the filing spouse qualifies for Chapter 7 liquidation or Chapter 13 reorganization.
Additionally, while a non-filing spouse is not liable for a filing spouse's debt, if joint property is owned between them their estate may not be immune to actions on the part of creditors.
If the household income of a filing spouse disqualifies him or her for Chapter 7, he or she can still file a reorganizational bankruptcy (Chapter 13). Under Chapter 13, a trustee is appointed by the court in order to administer the repayment of debt according to a plan agreed to by the filing spouse's creditors. While the non-filing spouse will not be involved in the Chapter 13 repayment plan, his or her income will be considered when determining the repayment schedule.
Credit Reports and Non-Filing Spouses
In theory, any debt carried by one spouse that is his or hers alone, will not appear on the other spouse's credit report. Additionally, a bankruptcy on the part of one spouse should not appear on the credit report of a non-filing spouse unless they have joint debt together.