Do Both Husband and Wife Have to File?
Even if you are married, your are not obligated by federal bankruptcy laws to file a joint case with your spouse. Married people can file a joint case, two separate cases, or one spouse can file for bankruptcy alone. However, if a husband and wife are both responsible for a debt and only one spouse files bankruptcy, the creditor has the right to come after the other spouse for the debt. This problem can often be avoided through a Chapter 13 proceeding. If you have recently married and most of your debts were incurred by your new spouse prior to your marriage, you are not legally responsible for those preexisting debts. When you marry someone, you do not marry his or her bills. We suggest that you and your spouse talk to us and get some advice as to your options so you can get specific answers to your individual concerns.
Can I File Bankruptcy While Getting Divorced?
If divorcing couples believe that bankruptcy is a possibility, they should consider filing a joint bankruptcy case before the divorce is final. This not only saves legal expenses by avoiding the necessity of filing two separate bankruptcies, but also may save some of the expenses you might incur in your divorce proceeding while arguing who pays which bills.
If one of you files a bankruptcy after becoming divorced, the bankruptcy does nothing to protect the former spouse from joint debts, regardless of what the divorce decree says. A divorce decree is an agreement between the two spouses and is not binding on your creditors. Your creditors will pursue the spouse who did not file bankruptcy. However, a requirement in a divorce decree that one spouse protect the other spouse from joint creditors may survive the bankruptcy under certain circumstances. This is a complex area. If this may be an issue in your bankruptcy, it is extremely important that you discuss it immediately with the Attorney.