Marriage and Bankruptcy
If I Am Married, Do I Have to File Jointly with My Spouse?
Not necessarily. If your spouse’s debts are sufficiently minor that a discharge isn’t personally beneficial, you can file an individual chapter 7 or 13 case identifying yourself as a single debtor. Your spouse’s income, however, must be jointly recorded on Schedule I and considered as part of “household income” to determine eligibility under the means or disposable income tests.
Additionally, because all community property becomes an asset of the filing spouse’s bankruptcy case, a non-filing spouse may still benefit from the case by enjoying the benefits of a “community discharge” that protects community property from creditor actions under the automatic stay of 11 U.S.C. §362 and the post-discharge injunction under 11 U.S.C. §524.
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