If you and your spouse are struggling to make ends meet due to mounting debt, you aren't alone. Whether it’s the loss of a job or an unexpected illness, these events can cripple a couple financially. Experiencing financial hardships can lead to difficult decisions — like whether or not to file for bankruptcy. Here are some facts about Chapter 7 bankruptcy and whether or not you and your spouse should file together.
Filing Chapter 7 Jointly and the Means Test
Whether you file for Chapter 7 as an individual or jointly, you must take the “means test.” The means test measures your current financial condition and if you have enough disposable income to pay back your outstanding debts.
- If you are married, but filing for Chapter 7 individually, your spouse's income must be included.
- If you do not pass the means test, you and your spouse may still be eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- If filing jointly with your spouse, there may be a double exemption benefit if you file for Chapter 7 with your spouse. However, to determine your eligibility to receive a double exemption, it’s best to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Why Married Couples Choose Bankruptcy
While every financial situation is unique, the following are the most common reasons why married couples seek bankruptcy for debt relief.
- Loss of a job.
- Pay cuts or lowered income.
- Mounting medical bills.
- Increased household expenses.
- Failure to manage household and personal finances properly.
- Cost of living increases.
Chapter 7 for Married Couples Who Have Separated
Everyone has the right to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whether they live with or without their spouse. If you're separated with the intent to divorce, then filing for bankruptcy could present more challenges — especially if you divorce in the middle of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
Schedule a Free Consultation
Separation and bankruptcy can be complicated, so it’s best to consult a bankruptcy attorney to guide you in the right direction. Let our team of experienced bankruptcy attorneys answer all of your questions and relive your concerns.
Contact Wadhwani & Shanfeld at (800) 996-9932 to discuss your unique situation.