Bankruptcy and Love

14 Jul Bankruptcy and Love

As a bankruptcy lawyer, I’m often contacted by folks who ask, “Should I marry someone who is about to file bankruptcy?” Understandably, they don’t want to be on the hook for the debts of their future spouse.

But then there’s love. He makes her heart go thump thump. She’s desperately in love with him. She can’t imagine living without him. They’re clearly meant to be together. But who wants to get strapped for the debts of another person? As grandma used to say, “Love goes out the window when money problems start.” (Grandma was a bit cynical–or wise?)

It happened just the other day here in my Charleston bankruptcy practice as I spoke with a young woman who was in this situation. Her credit is good. His is not. This was her first marriage and his as well. She has no credit card debt while he was $50,000.00 in credit card debt. Her concern is increased further by the fact that her house was paid off five years ago.

In South Carolina, as long as she does not put his name on the deed of her house, the asset will be safe from his creditors after they get married. As long she does not sign any contracts with him, her credit will be safe.

The good news for South Carolina residents is that there is no community marital property. As a result, there is no way someone can end up owing the debts of the new spouse unless they sign a contract obligating them for this debt. In South Carolina, as in most other states, marriage alone does not make you liable for the debts of your spouse. I was happy to tell this caller that she could go ahead and marry Romeo without worrying about his creditors seizing her assets. She’s thrilled, and we’ll file bankruptcy for Romeo in a few months.

I practice consumer bankruptcy law in South Carolina. To find out about the law in your state–especially if it’s a community property state–call a bankruptcy lawyer in your local area and have him review your case.

And even if you live in South Carolina, it might be a good idea for him to file bankruptcy before you get married so that you can start the marriage off with a clean slate. Also, getting married prior to filing my affect your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because both spouses’ income is considered for determining whether the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is an “abuse” of Chapter 7. So there are other important considerations you should explore with a bankruptcy lawyer near you.

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Russell A. DeMott is a Charleston, South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer who represents consumer debtors in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. He is the author of the Charleston Bankruptcy Blog. He is also a member of the South Carolina Bankruptcy Blog. He files bankruptcy cases for clients in the Charleston, South Carolina division, which runs from Myrtle Beach to Beaufort. The DeMott Law Firm also represents clients in foreclosure defense and mortgage modification. You can also connect with Russ on Google Plus Russell DeMott. Russ can be contacted directly at (843) 695-0830 or by email at russ@demottlawfirm.com.
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