Can One Spouse File Bankruptcy Without Affecting the Other?   

Can One Spouse File Bankruptcy Without Affecting the Other?   

Married people filing for bankruptcy in Ohio have the option of filing with or without their spouse.  There are advantages and disadvantages of both options, so deciding whether you should file for bankruptcy alone or together depends on your individual situation and needs.

If you do file individually, it must be done in good faith.  The bankruptcy court will examine your circumstances, and if it determines that filing on your own was not done in good faith, it may dismiss the case without discharging your debts. If you don’t file properly, even the non-filing spouse may be stuck with unexpected debts. To make sure everything is done correctly, you should consult an attorney who is experienced in Ohio bankruptcy laws and can help you decide whether you should file on your own or jointly.

The experienced and compassionate Ohio debt-relief attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to even the most well-intentioned people and are aware of the difficult decisions involved in filing for bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy protection can help you drastically reduce or eliminate the bills you cannot afford while keeping some assets, such as your car and your house, and eliminate harassment from creditors, but it should be done in the way that provides the most benefits to you and your spouse. We offer a free consultation to make sure you understand your options and help you decide on a solution that makes sense in your case.

Call Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today or contact us online so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

What are the Advantages of Filing Individually?

If you are married, you may file for bankruptcy individually and your spouse does not have to file.  This may be the best option in certain situations.  For one thing, because Ohio is a common-law state, not a community-property state, when you file individually, only property held by you or jointly by both spouses can be sold to pay creditors.  Property held by your spouse alone will not be affected.

Here are some other advantages of having just one spouse file independently:

  • One spouse has already filed bankruptcy in the past 8 years.
  • One spouse has all the debt and the other has none, or one spouse has debts that are not dischargeable.
  • One spouse owns assets free and clear and doesn’t want to lose them.
  • One spouse has a clean credit record and doesn’t want that damaged, and that spouse has not cosigned on the filing spouse’s debts.

However, the bankruptcy court will examine factors such as total household income and total household expenses to make sure that the filing spouse is the one who should be filing for bankruptcy.  For example, your spouse might have run up bills while remodeling the house, but since you are living in it as well, you are also responsible for any liens contractors may have put on it.

Disadvantages of Filing Alone

There are benefits to filing a joint bankruptcy that you will lose if you file individually. These include:

  • If debt is in both your names, your spouse will still owe the money even if you go bankrupt.
  • Ohio law allows married couples filing jointly to each claim a full set of exemptions, unless otherwise noted, in effect giving you “double” exemptions.
  • If you have a loan on a property such as a car or home you wish to keep, and you are current on the payments and the equity is covered by your exemptions, you may continue making payments on the loan and keep this property through the bankruptcy.
  • If both spouses have joint debts, the fact that one spouse discharged the debt may show on the other spouse’s credit report.

Be aware that if you do file jointly, you must include your combined income in the bankruptcy.  Since there are income limits to filing for Chapter 7, if your joint income is too high to meet the Ohio means test, then you may not be able to qualify, and you will have to file Chapter 13.

Get Help Today – Contact Us For a Free Consultation

Since every situation is unique, when making the decision to file bankruptcy, you should explore both individual and joint bankruptcy options to see how you are affected.  The seasoned and compassionate Ohio bankrutptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer offer a free consultation where we will evaluate your entire financial situation, make sure you are aware of all your options, and help you decide on the path to a brighter future that makes sense in your individual case.  We understand what you are going through and will walk you through the process.

Delaying can only worsen your situation, so contact us online or call the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today for your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

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