Married couples can choose whether to file for bankruptcy jointly (together) or individually. When you are trying to deciding whether or not to file with your spouse you need to consider the following:
- the value and type of property you own together and separately
- which Georgia bankruptcy exemption laws apply and what property you can protect
- the bills you owe together and separately
- the credit score of each spouse
- your combined income (which must be included in both individual and joint cases unless the spouses are separated)
Joint Bankruptcy Filings for Married Couples
Bankruptcy law allows married couples to file a bankruptcy petition together which is known as a joint case.
Both spouses can wipe out qualifying debt when filing together, including debts they incurred as a married couple and individual bills that they owe as well.
The court filing fees are the same for an individual case filing and joint bankruptcy case. Our law firm charges the same amount for couples filing together as we do for one individual case filing. If you file together you can save money on court and attorney fees.
Filing a joint bankruptcy will negatively affect the credit rating of both spouses. Some couples have kept all of their bills separate and preserve one spouse’s good credit so that it’s available immediately after the bankruptcy case has been completed.
Married Individuals Must Include the Non-Filing Spouse’s Income
People tend to believe that they can get around a Chapter 7 qualification issue if only one spouse files—but it isn’t the case. An individual filing won’t solve an income-related means test problem. Why? A married filer must include both spouses’ incomes when filing for individual bankruptcy unless the spouses are separated.
Because you must include the non-filing spouse’s income on the means test if you share a household, if your spouse has a significant income, you’ll typically have a more challenging time qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and may have to file a Chapter 13 case instead and repay a portion of your debt.