If you’re married and thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you need to consider whether you and your spouse should file separately or together as a couple. You need to assess your financial situation and then weigh the benefits and disadvantages of filing a joint bankruptcy petition. There is no legal requirement to file jointly simply because you are married, and in some cases it is not necessary for both spouses to file for bankruptcy. Certainly, if one spouse has nominal debts (or none at all) that they can comfortably afford to repay, then filing jointly would not be prudent. However, if you’re married and share many debts with your spouse (i.e. joint accounts, co-signed debts), or both spouses have a significant amount of debt, then filing jointly would likely be the proper course of action.
There are many benefits to filing a joint bankruptcy. By filing jointly, a married couple may eliminate debt (as in Chapter 7), or consolidate and repay their debt (Chapter 13) over a three to five year period. Filing a joint bankruptcy can save you money on filing fees. Bankruptcy fees are the same whether you file an individual or joint bankruptcy petition. So, by filing together you can save on the filing fees by filing one case, rather than filing two separate cases. Filing jointly will also reduce your attorney fees, because you will be filing one joint bankruptcy petition, instead of two. Filing a joint bankruptcy will also save you time. You need to submit all your financial information such as income, assets, property, expenses, and debts. If you file a joint petition, you will only need to gather all your documents once in order to prepare the bankruptcy petition listing all the financial information you share with your spouse.
If you are married and considering bankruptcy as an option for relieving the financial stress you’re suffering, please consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible.