No, your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy with you. There is no law stating that both people in a marriage must file bankruptcy. A married person can file a single bankruptcy.
If a married person does decide to file without their spouse, some information from the non-filing spouse would be needed. The non-filing spouse’s income would have to be listed in order to do the means test and any joint property owned would also need to be listed.
If any of the debt is in both your names, then you would want to consider having your spouse file. Once the debtor files bankruptcy, the co-debtor becomes solely liable for the debt.
For example, if you and your spouse have both your names on a credit card, your spouse will become responsible for the debt once you file bankruptcy. Depending on the amount of debt and your individual situation, you may consider both filing bankruptcy.
It is not mandatory for a married couple to file bankruptcy jointly. Each couples individual circumstances will determine whether or not it is in their best interest to both file bankruptcy.
Many people tell me that they are getting married and they want to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy before they get married so that the bankruptcy will not affect their new spouses credit. I tell them, always, “DON’T WORRY, IT WON’T.” And that is true. When one spouse files bankruptcy, it DOES NOT AFFECT THE OTHER spouses credit. Yes, the spouse may have to provide paystubs and tax returns, but that is only used to determine if the filing spouse is eligible to file. Only the filing spouse’s social security number is used when filing, so the non-filing spouse has nothing to worry about.
If you have any questions about Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maryland, call the Maryland Bankruptcy Center today at (410) 766-4044 for a free conultation.
David L. Ruben, Esquire