As a Waco bankruptcy lawyer, potential clients frequently ask me if they can file bankruptcy without their spouse. The simple answer is yes, you can file bankruptcy without your spouse. (But see the disclaimer in the next paragraph.) This past month alone I have had four clients who have filed bankruptcy without their spouses. Most clients who file bankruptcy without their spouse do so because they have only been married for a couple of years and the debt is primarily one spouse’s debt from before the marriage. It is important to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney about the decision to file bankruptcy without your spouse. In my practice, I strongly encourage the non-filing spouse to come to the appointment with me when we file the bankruptcy for numerous reasons listed below.
First, even if your spouse does not join you in the bankruptcy, you will need your spouse’s cooperation if you are still living together. (This is that disclaimer I mentioned earlier.) The bankruptcy code requires your spouse’s earnings to be considered in your bankruptcy as part of the income test. Therefore, most attorneys will require your spouse’s proof of income and bank statements for the six months prior to filing bankruptcy. A good attorney will attempt to deduct your spouse’s bills from the income test. My experience as a bankruptcy attorney is that it is much easier to accurately complete the bankruptcy documents if both spouses come to the filing appointment.
Furthermore, an individual filing bankruptcy must list their assets. Some states like Texas are community property states. Typically, in a community property state all property acquired after marriage is assumed to be owned by both spouses. This includes real property like land and houses and personal property like cars, tvs, and clothing. Even if your spouse does not file bankruptcy with you, you must list all property you own including community property in the bankruptcy. It is easier to ensure all property is included in the bankruptcy documents if both spouses are at the filing appointment.
Finally, I have found that clients who are filing bankruptcy and their spouses are overwhelmed and confused about the process. I like to have both spouses at the filing appointment, so I can answer any questions about the bankruptcy process for both spouses. Non-filing spouses typically have questions about their credit, vehicles and houses, and the future. The filing appointment is a great time to address those concerns.
If you are drowning in debt, there is hope. Email us at [email protected] or call our office today for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Waco bankruptcy attorney. Let my family help yours!