M is for Marriage in bankruptcy

If you are married, you are not required to file a joint bankruptcy.   In many cases you should though.

a.  If you live in a community property state it is usually wise to file a joint case.  Debts incurred by either spouse during a marriage are each spouses responsibility in most instances.   Therefore, if only one spouse files on marital debt, the other spouse gets socked with the responsibility for repayment, which defeats the purpose of filing a bankruptcy case.

b. Many debts are cosigned and joint between spouses, so a joint filing discharges them for both filers.

c. If the parties are separated and contemplating divorce, it is often helpful to discharge all debts for both spouses, making the break cleaner, and the divorce simpler, rather than having to resort to splitting the debt, and then splitting income to help pay for the debt during the marital settlement agreement.   This is most helpful for a home that is under water, with neither party really wishing to keep the home.
I’m not advocating that parties file bankruptcy just because they are divorcing, but money problems is often a major factor in the decision to file divorce.

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Terrance Leeders

Chicago Bankruptcy Attorney, husband, father, Cubs fan.

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