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Both Spouses Don’t Always Have to File

Marriage and BankruptcyMany of those considering bankruptcy wonder if they too must file bankruptcy if their spouse does. In truth, they do not. Although it’s sometimes a good idea for both spouses to file on a joint petition, it is not always necessary. For instance, a joint filing means paying only one filing fee and will allow both parties to get on with their life (there may be some special property exemptions available in this situation as well).
In some circumstances, all or most of the debt will be in one spouse’s name. In that case, it may make sense to file one spouse and not the other. Any joint debts (debts that are in both names) can be discharged as to one party, but will leave the non-filing spouse solely responsible for those debts.
Once in a while, I meet a person who hasn’t spoken to or seen their spouse in years. They no longer have joint debts and are in every sense (other than legally), divorced. The courts recognize that this sometimes happens and allow married couples to file bankruptcy individually and allow them to maintain separate homestead exemptions. All that the court requires to do this is that the debtor filing bankruptcy swear that the separate households are maintained for some other reason other than to defraud the bankruptcy court.
If you are married, considering bankruptcy and would like a free analysis of your options going forward, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.

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