Help – I’m married but my spouse won’t file.

Spouses file bankruptcy

What if You Want to File for Bankruptcy, But Your Spouse Won’t Consider It?

Filing for bankruptcy is a big decision that has consequences for you and your family. If you’ve consulted with your spouse and they don’t want to file for bankruptcy, can you file alone? How will your filing affect your spouse?

Do Both Spouses Need Bankruptcies?

When you file for bankruptcy, you and your spouse can file jointly, or you can file individually. Either option could impact both of you, so it’s important to evaluate your situation.

Factors for deciding if a joint or individual bankruptcy is the right option

  • If you jointly own property: Missouri is a common law property state, meaning that individual assets you or your spouse have won’t be part of the bankruptcy estate if you file as an individual.
  • If you have shared debts: If you declare bankruptcy, but your spouse doesn’t, your spouse’s debts are not discharged, even if they were shared debts with you.
  • Your individual credit scores: Your individual bankruptcy won’t affect your spouse’s credit, but if you had joint debts, your bankruptcy might show up on your spouse’s credit reports that the co-debtor filed bankruptcy.
  • Your spouse filed for bankruptcy before: If your spouse has filed for bankruptcy in the past, they may not be eligible for a discharge yet.

Does My Bankruptcy Affect My Spouse?

If and to what extent your bankruptcy affects your spouse will depend on some of the above factors, especially concerning property and credit score. Importantly, your bankruptcy won’t wipe clean your spouse’s debts if they have their own debts or debts they share with you. Also, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can use the codebtor stay to prevent creditors from trying to collect from your codebtors, such as your spouse if you have joint debt.

If your spouse won’t consider bankruptcy, they should know that married couples have options available. The bankruptcy lawyers at Doyel Law can answer all your questions about filing for bankruptcy jointly or individually. Contact us today to get started.

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