While filing a joint bankruptcy petition with your spouse may save you time and money, if you are the only one with debt, it would be in your best interest to file individually. Still, it is important to know that even if you file for bankruptcy as an individual, your spouse may still be affected. So, what exactly happens to debt and property when you file without your spouse? To start, it is essential to note that New Jersey is a common law property state, meaning if you are on a title to a property or purchased it yourself, then it is yours. Property owned jointly means each spouse owns half of it unless it has be designated otherwise.
What Property Falls Under Your Bankruptcy?
When filing in New Jersey without your spouse, the property you own individually and your portion of any jointly owned properties will be part of your bankruptcy. This also means that if you do not have enough exemptions to cover these properties, you may lose them in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The trustee has the power to take and sell those properties in order to pay your creditors.
The good news for your spouse is that any property they own individually and their portion of joint property is not part of your bankruptcy. A trustee does have the power to force the sale of entire asset to get to your portion, if it is a nonexempt joint property. In that scenario, the bankruptcy trustee would have to pay your spouse for their portion. They usually also have to partition the property to sell only your share if possible. If it cannot be partitioned, they will have to prove that selling the property as a whole outweighs the harm to the co-owners.
When it comes to the debt discharged in your bankruptcy, it will be your obligation to pay your dischargeable separate debts and joint debts that gets eliminated. The discharge you receive does not change your spouse’s responsibility toward any of your joint debts. They will still be responsible for their separate debts and portion of any joint debts.
Bankruptcy Attorney Offers Help in New Jersey
The world of bankruptcy can be complex, especially when it comes to married couples. In order to make sure you have everything you need in the order you need it, hiring a bankruptcy attorney is your best option.
An attorney like Joel R. Spivack is a great place to turn to in this situation. Mr. Spivack is known for his attention to detail, his depth of legal knowledge, and the great service he provides his clients with.
He will make sure you are making the right choice when it comes filing. He can also help you explore alternatives to bankruptcy if they better fit your need. Fill out the online contact form to contact the Law Office of Joel R. Spivack today.
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.