Under the U.S. bankruptcy code, a married person can file as an individual or jointly with his or her spouse. A spouse can file an individual bankruptcy petition without the other's consent, but not a joint petition. In other words, one spouse cannot force the other person in the marriage into bankruptcy.
Despite this limitation, filing bankruptcy without the other spouse's consent could have legal repercussions for the non-filing spouse. One common complication is the presence of joint debts.
As mentioned above, one spouse can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy without the other spouse’s consent.
However, if both spouses owe debts together, the bankruptcy filing of one spouse may not eliminate the debt obligations of the non-filing person. Here’s how this may work:
So, while bankruptcy can be filed by one spouse without the other’s consent, informing the other spouse may help eliminate potential debt disputes.
In addition to potential debt obligations, a non-filing spouse may also have some credit concerns. In the event of a bankruptcy filed by one spouse:
Credit concerns and joint debt are only a few of the complications that arise when one spouse files bankruptcy without the other. Speaking with a local attorney may help address your concerns.
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