Spouses Do Not Need To File Bankruptcy Together

28 Aug Spouses Do Not Need To File Bankruptcy Together

Credit Report RingsI Love You, but before I pop “the question”, I am going to need to see your most recent credit reports! In Florida, marriage does not make you automatically responsible for your husband’s/wife’s debts. If marriage bound you to pay for your husband’s/wife’s debts, people would not get married without a thorough background check and credit check. I know I would have been quite a bit more diligent in my research. Sorry Honey, but it’s the truth. Would you marry someone with $50,000 in past credit card debt or medical bills? How about someone who purchased a house at the wrong time and went through foreclosure and is facing a deficiency judgment?

Many husbands/wives believe that they are responsible for their spouse’s debts despite not having signed for the debt. I don’t know where this idea came from but I hear it all the time, and it scares me that people believe it is true. This question comes up quite a bit when discussing financial problems at an initial bankruptcy consultation. I cannot speak for other states, but in Florida, nothing can be further from the truth.

So, I always ask a husband and a wife, to split the debts that they would like to include in the bankruptcy and see who is responsible for each and every debt. The reason for doing so is simple: It may not always be in the best interests of both parties to file for bankruptcy, and if there is one thing that I have learned during my years as a bankruptcy attorney, it’s that you never know what the future will hold.

Likewise, it may sometimes be better for a Husband to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy first, then the wife files with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy because she only owes the IRS. Whatever the financial situation, it needs to be looked at very carefully before a decision is made too quickly. By creating separate lists of debts, your bankruptcy attorney can analyze each situation and help you come to the best financial decision for your family. Please do not ever be afraid to ask your bankruptcy attorney a question, as your questions may reveal information that is useful.

Now, if a husband and a wife have mostly joint debt, then it may not make sense to file two bankruptcy cases when one would do the trick.

I have stepped into cases filed by other bankruptcy attorneys and then asked the Court to split the cases into two cases because the results were inequitable for one spouse. In some instances, one of the spouses should never have filed for bankruptcy at all. Ouch.

If I can file bankruptcy for one spouse and not the other, the non-filing spouse may be able to qualify for a mortgage quicker. The non-filing spouse may be able to get a car loan at a lower interest rate than if he/she had filed for bankruptcy. I may have better exemption options available in the future. The possibilities are endless. However, if you choose the wrong bankruptcy attorney and these issues are not discussed, you could be making a huge mistake.

This is one more thing on the list of what you need to know when you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy. Just thought you should know.

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Carmen Dellutri is a proud member of the Florida Bar, and he is a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney, Certified by the American Board of Certification. He practices in the areas of Consumer Bankruptcy and Plaintiff's Personal Injury. He is the principal attorney at The Dellutri Law Group, P.A. The firm supports many charitable and civic causes by donating time and much needed capital to our community. Mr. Dellutri and the other attorneys in the firm routinely speak to students of all ages about various legal and societal issues.
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