Many married couples who are struggling financially seek debt relief by filing for bankruptcy. Once the decision to seek bankruptcy protection has been made, you must also decide whether one or both spouse should file. Although every case is different and you should confer with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney, below are a few factors to consider in deciding whether to file jointly:
The amount of debt you have is one of the most important factors in determining how to approach your bankruptcy filing. If most of a couple’s bills are held only by one spouse, a single filing by him or her could be a good option. However, this can be tricky since many debts are marital or joint debts and if only one spouse files bankruptcy, he or she will only be permitted to discharge his or her liability for the marital debts and all separately-held debts. This means that the non-filing spouse will still be obligated to pay for the full amount of the joint debts and his or her own separate debt.
It is essential to consider how a married couple’s property and assets are held. Title to property can be held in a variety of different ways including joint tenancy, in a trust, individually or numerous other arrangements. Where you live is also important because you must consider whether community property law or common law will be applied to your property. You should confer with a local attorney to ask which laws your applicable state applies.
The bankruptcy court will review transfers you have recently made. The law prohibits fraudulent transfers of property. In other words, you cannot transfer your valuable assets to the non-filing spouse in order to prevent it from being included in your bankruptcy case. The court will typically examine all transfers that were made within one year prior to your bankruptcy petition date. These transfers are presumed to be fraudulent, so it is important to confirm that you can prove that such transfers were legitimate.
The personal bankruptcy process can be simple and effortless if you retain an attorney who will explain the steps to you. Ms. Anderson is dedicated to walking you through each step, explaining the process along the way. At The Law Office of Diane Anderson, we are determined to help our clients obtain the best results possible.