There are many advantages that come with being married. For instance, now that you are married you have the option to file a joint bankruptcy with your spouse and discharge your debts together. Filing jointly can save you time and money.
A joint bankruptcy is great for saving time because it eliminates separate hearings. All of your debts get wiped out together in a single bankruptcy, saving you loads of time. The same goes for money. Filing fees for bankruptcy are the same whether it is joint or individual. In addition, a bankruptcy attorney will usually charge a lot less for a joint bankruptcy filing than two individual bankruptcies that each require a lot of work. It is also important to keep in mind that if only one of you has debt, you do not need to file jointly. If your spouse has debt, they can file individually. Just know you will have to disclose your income but you will not be part of the filing or be required to attend any hearings.
These advantages of join bankruptcy are great for newlyweds, but it is important to note that not all bankruptcies are best for married couples.
Chapter 7 Pitfalls When Filing Jointly
For starters, filing jointly might make it more difficult for you and your spouse to pass the means test — a requirement to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In order to automatically pass the means test your income must be lower than the median income for a similar household in your state. If it is above median, then you have to disclose your expenses in order to see if you qualify. Being married can also make it harder to protect all of your property. Exemptions exist in each state that allow you to keep a certain amount of property under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When filing jointly you might be able to double the amount of your exemptions, accounting for the fact two people tend to have more property than a single person.
However, some states do not allow married couples to double their exemptions when filing jointly. Because of this, you will have property that is not able to be exempt between you and your spouse. In this situation, it might be better to file individually so you can each exempt your assets. In order to best figure out your state laws and navigate the complexities that exist with bankruptcy exemptions, you need to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
Contact New Jersey’s Joel R. Spivack for Your Bankruptcy Needs
At the Law Office of Joel R. Spivack you will have all your bankruptcy inquiries addressed. With years of experience in bankruptcy filings and alternatives to bankruptcy, you can rest assured that you are in good hands. All it takes is for you to fill out the online contact form. Soon, you will be working with an experienced and skilled bankruptcy lawyer.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.