Letter to “Ask Leon”
I have acquired approx 25,000 in credit card debt. Some prior to getting married and some after. We were married 3 years ago. Can I file bankruptcy in my name only without including my husband and debts in his name?
This is a popular question that many people ask. The short answer is you may file a single case by yourself, (assuming that bankruptcy is otherwise appropriate for you and taking into consideration a favorable analysis on a lot of other issues that you have not yet addressed). Whether or not you should file is another matter.
Filing just by yourself does not mean that your husband is guaranteed to be unaffected. It just means that he would not be the person who filed the bankruptcy case. For example, if you and he have established any kind of joint credit together, (department store, car loan, credit card, etc.), such credit may be affected in some manner, such as an adverse notation on his credit report concerning that particular account even if you still pay it. If you file and you are able to reaffirm the debt, it might allow him to avoid such an unfavorable notation. If you and he have established any kind of joint asset ownership, that too may be affected, (especially real property). The court will also consider your total household income and how you and your spouse are spending it in deciding whether your case should be accepted. Finally, if you are married, the bankruptcy paper work requires you to divulge your spouse’s name, even if the spouse does not file with you.
Please consult right away with an experienced attorney specializing in bankruptcy so that all of the necessary considerations can be examined. Don’t be afraid to do that. Most of us BK lawyers offer a completely free consultation. The new laws have made bankruptcy even more complex than it ever was. The good news is that most people who need bankruptcy relief can still obtain it, it just takes more work.
I am wondering about something you said. You ask, “Can I file bankruptcy in my name only with out including my husband and debts in his name?” I wonder, since all of the money that will go to pay his debts is money that will never be spent for your common benefit, how does that benefit you and your marriage? (If he has just a trivial amount of bills, then I would certainly understand.
However, if he has anywhere near the debt load that you carry; don’t think that you are preserving his credit by sacrificing yours. A person carrying an inappropriate level of debt is usually never going to be a good candidate for additional debt, such borrowing money to buy a home, until they have paid their debts down to a reasonable level.