At the Long Island office of bankruptcy attorney Ronald D. Weiss, we understand that making decisions regarding bankruptcy filings may be confusing and intimidating. We are here to provide guidance regarding any reservations or questions you may have related to the bankruptcy process. Please do not hesitate to call today at 631-296-0309 to discuss a possible bankruptcy case and to go over any questions you may have.
For example, married individuals who are considering filing for bankruptcy often wonder whether their spouse must be included on a bankruptcy filing or whether they have the ability to file alone. The short answer to that question is that anyone—married or not—has the option of filing for an individual bankruptcy on their own. However, you must realize that, in some situations, it may be preferable to file together.
When should you file together?
There are several different reasons why spouses may be better off filing for a joint bankruptcy rather than one spouse going it alone. Some of these reasons include the following:
You have property and/or assets—In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will likely have to give up some of your property to be liquidated to pay your creditors. New York law,1 however, provides certain exemptions that allow you to keep various property and assets. In a joint bankruptcy, a husband and wife may each claim the full amount of exemptions, except in limited circumstances, which allows you to keep double the property.
Your spouse has income—Whether you file on your own or jointly, your qualification for Chapter 7 will still be based on your household income. This means that if your spouse works, their income will automatically be included. If your household income is too high for a single filer, you could be disqualified from filing under Chapter 7 under the means test.2
You are considering divorce—Even though couples facing divorce may not want to work together, it is often preferable to file for joint bankruptcy prior to filing for divorce. If the majority of your marital debts are discharged, you will not have to determine how to divide the debts in divorce, which can save both money and time.
On the other hand, if your spouse has no income, little debt, and no joint liability for any debts in your name, it may be easier to file alone. An experienced Long Island bankruptcy lawyer will evaluate your situation and advise you of your best options.