Life is unpredictable and sometimes married couples find themselves facing vastly different credit situations. It could be one spouse came into the marriage with a large amount of debt or it could be that an impending separation has caused one partner to make unwise financial choices. Whatever the reason, sometimes one spouse considers filing for bankruptcy alone. A Xenia, Ohio bankruptcy attorney offers advice on things to consider when choosing to file for bankruptcy solely or jointly.
In general, it is more advisable to file bankruptcy jointly. However, in special circumstances it may be a good idea to file alone. If you believe your spouse will not be truthful in a joint petition, refusing to be on the same bankruptcy petition is a matter of self-preservation. The penalties for perjury are severe. Lying on a bankruptcy petition can lead to five years in federal prison. You may also choose to file separately if your spouse owes no debt, including joint debts, and has no liability.
On the other hand, there are several disadvantages to filing separately. First, even if you choose to file alone, your spouse’s income is still attributed to you. This fact may cause those wishing to file alone to be above the income thresh hold for Chapter 7 or may increase the minimum payment needed to fund a Chapter 13 Wage Earner Plan.
Filing bankruptcy alone may also prove to be more expensive for the family in the long run. Generally, the cost of adding the spouse to a bankruptcy petition is around $100. However, once one spouse has filed, if the other spouse is forced into bankruptcy later they will be responsible for paying for their own petition. This means one family may end up paying bankruptcy fees, which are close to $1,300 twice, one time for each spouse versus paying around $1,500 total for a joint filing.
Your exemptions are also considerably less when you file alone. Filing jointly automatically doubles your allowed exemptions. Furthermore, under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if only one spouse files for bankruptcy, creditors can still seek payment from the other spouse on all jointly held debts.
Filing for bankruptcy can be a lifesaving option for many people. It is highly advisable to seek assistance from an experienced attorney to determine your best option. For more information on determining when it is advisable for only one spouse to file for bankruptcy, contact us. Our friendly and experienced attorneys will work with you to plan your best course of action.