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Bankruptcy for Married Couples

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When there is consistently more month than money and your financial situation continues to deteriorate due to job loss, medical bills, or consumer debt, it may be time to consider your legal alternatives. Among the options available is bankruptcy for married couples.

Besides determining if you qualify for filing Chapter 7, where your debts are discharged, or qualify for filing Chapter 13, in which you have a repayment plan, you will need to decide if you both need bankruptcy protection.

The decision to file bankruptcy is a serious one that requires the guidance of experienced legal counsel at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP. We can explain your bankruptcy options, stop creditors from calling, and handle the legal matters so you can concentrate on getting your financial life back on track. Contact our Cleveland Bankruptcy attorneys today at (216) 586-6600 to discuss your options or email us at advice@clevelandbankruptcyattorney.com.

Must Bankruptcy be Filed Jointly by Married Couples?

There isn’t a requirement in Ohio that married couples file bankruptcy jointly. Ohio isn’t a community property state (where assets and debts accumulated during the marriage are split equally) so married couples here aren’t required to file bankruptcy jointly. If one spouse holds assets independent of a spouse that needs debt relief, it may be best that individual bankruptcy is filed.

It’s important to discuss whether you should file jointly or individually with our bankruptcy attorneys. While it may seem like a good idea to file your own bankruptcy to save money by using forms from the internet if you get something wrong the court may dismiss your case. If you file as an individual and the court determines you acted in bad faith, for example falsely claiming some of your assets belong solely to your spouse, you could be in serious trouble.

Understand that if you’re married, but file independently, the court will look at total household income and expenses to make sure you’ve filed correctly. There may be circumstances where even if one spouse has run up the debt both parties are responsible because of what the money was spent on. Because this analysis can be complicated, it’s best to discuss your complete financial picture with our seasoned bankruptcy attorneys. Don’t try to go it alone when it comes to filing for bankruptcy.

Filing Separately vs Joint Filing Factors

Reasons you might consider filing independently:

  • A previous bankruptcy: your spouse already filed bankruptcy in the past eight years and is barred from filing another.
  • Debt allocation: you have a higher amount of debt that isn’t “marital” debt.
  • Credit Record Protection: If the debts aren’t marital and haven’t been co-signed by your spouse, the non-filing spouse’s credit record can be protected.
  • Asset Protection: your spouse owns assets that shouldn’t be sold to pay your debts.

Reasons you might want to file jointly:

  • Exemptions increase: under bankruptcy statutes, you and your spouse are each allowed a full set of exemptions.
  • Cosigned loans: your bankruptcy won’t discharge your spouse’s obligations on loans that are co-signed.
  • Marital debt: the vast majority of your debt is marital so both spouses need debt relief and a fresh start.

Considering Bankruptcy for Married Couples? Contact Us

Do you need a fresh start and are unsure whether you should file for bankruptcy independently or with your spouse? We can help. Our Cleveland bankruptcy attorneys at Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP understand the stress you are under due to your financial burdens and harassing collections calls. Our experienced bankruptcy lawyers can help you understand what kind of bankruptcy is best for your situation and who needs to file. Contact us today at (216) 586-6600 for a free consultation. The sooner you call, the quicker you will be on your way to a brighter economic outlook.