Bankruptcy Lawyer | What if My Spouse Doesn’t Want to File?
Bankruptcy Lawyer | As a Bakersfield bankruptcy attorney I sometimes meet with prospective married clients who seek to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy individually. Initially I have to bring to their attention that despite their request to file on their own, their spouse’s income has to be taken into consideration to determine their \ability to file both under the means test which has been discussed in prior posts on this blog as well their joint income compared to their joint expenses.
Assuming the non-filing spouse’s income does not pose a roadblock to filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the next issue I address with these clients is the advisability of filing jointly with their spouse instead of individually. The whole idea of the fresh start from a Chapter 7 filing is defeated if only one spouse files and receives a discharge of their debts, but the other spouse is still left with his or her own burdensome debt that could have been discharged in a joint filing. In these cases there is usually an initial reluctance on the part of the spouse who wants to avoid filing bankruptcy which requires my meeting with them and stressing the advantages of filing jointly to remove all of the family debts-not just their spouse’s. The fees and costs are almost always the same for filing together so that should not pose a barrier to a joint filing.
Each situation is unique and in some cases where it may be advisable for the benefit of both spouses to file jointly, one spouse may just be philosophically or emotionally opposed to filing bankruptcy. In such cases, I do my best to convince the reluctant spouse that their family will truly benefit from the Chapter 7 filing by filing jointly. Once I explain why it is generally a good idea for spouses to file jointly, the spouses can see why it’s to their advantage and agree to file jointly.
In cases where it’s not advisable to file together (or one spouse still wants to proceed on his or her own) they can as long the other spouse is willing to cooperate to the extent of providing the necessary income and expense information for their spouse’s Chapter 7 filing. The non-filing spouse will also usually need to sign a “Spousal Waiver” where he or she agrees that should he/she file an individual bankruptcy case later then he/she must use the same exemption scheme as the previously-filing spouse.
Our office can assist you in determining whether bankruptcy is the right choice for you, and which chapter under the Bankruptcy Code would provide you with the most relief. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable Bakersfield bankruptcy lawyer about filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Kern County, please call our office today at 661-888-4335 .