Yes, as an Asheville bankruptcy lawyer, I file individual Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. An individual filing will not affect the non-filing spouse’s credit rating or appear on their credit report. Married couples are also allowed to file ‘jointly,’ where both spouses open a bankruptcy case together.
The critical factor to keep in mind is that if you file a bankruptcy case, only your debts will be discharged. Your bankruptcy case will not relieve your spouse’s liability on a debt if there is any (liability generally hinges on who signed the contract). For debts in both spouses’ names, a joint filing eliminates all liability, and reduces administrative costs such as filing fees, attorney fees, etc.
Here are some reasons you may want to file an individual case, without your spouse:
The majority of debt is in only one spouse’s name. An individual bankruptcy case could provide relief to the household budget while maintaining the good credit of the non-filer.
One spouse does not want to file a bankruptcy case. An individual bankruptcy case may be the only relief available because a joint case requires both spouses’ consent.
A non-exempt asset is in one spouse’s name. For example, if investment real estate was owned free and clear and only one spouse was on the deed, an individual filing could protect that asset while still providing a financial fresh start.
An asset was transferred by one spouse. Pre-petition transfers of assets can be problematic, and an individual filing can frequently eliminate the problem.
You should consult with a bankruptcy attorney before deciding to file a case jointly or individually. For those of you in Western North Carolina, I would be pleased to speak with you during a free, initial consultation.
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