What Do Couples Need To Know About Bankruptcy Filings?
Can couples file for bankruptcy together? Is it possible for just one spouse to file for bankruptcy while the other spouse does not file for bankruptcy? When can couples that are separated or planning on a divorce file for bankruptcy? Do you have to be married to file a joint bankruptcy petition with your partner? There are many questions that you may have if you share a life and finances with a spouse or a significant other, and one or both of you are considering the possibility of filing for bankruptcy in South Florida. One of our experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy lawyers can provide you with the information you need concerning couples and bankruptcy filings according to U.S. bankruptcy law.
Married Couples Can File Jointly for Bankruptcy
Married couples often want to file for bankruptcy at the same time, or to file for bankruptcy together. Bankruptcy law in the U.S. allows a married couple to file a joint bankruptcy petition. This is true whether you want to file for liquidation bankruptcy (Chapter 7 bankruptcy) or a reorganization bankruptcy (Chapter 13 or, in some cases, Chapter 11 bankruptcy).
Both Spouses Are Not Required to File for Bankruptcy
While a married couple is permitted to file a joint bankruptcy petition (i.e., one bankruptcy petition together), it is important to know that U.S. bankruptcy law does not require both spouses to file for bankruptcy. While the classification of debts and assets, including both exempt and non-exempt assets, can be more complicated when only one spouse files for bankruptcy since much of the property may be owned jointly by the parties as marital property, it is possible for just one spouse in a marriage to file for bankruptcy.
You Must Be Married to File Jointly in Florida
If you want to file for bankruptcy jointly, you will need to be married. The sex of the spouses does not matter, but two people must be in a legal marriage in order to be eligible to file a joint bankruptcy petition. It does not matter if you have lived with your partner for decades, or if you have entered into a contractual agreement concerning your relationship outside the context of marriage. In short, and in sum, if you want to file for bankruptcy jointly, you must be married.
Separating or Divorcing Spouses Should Consider the Order of Divorce and Bankruptcy Carefully
While couples that are separating or getting divorced are not required to file for divorce and bankruptcy in a particular order, it is essential to consider the order carefully based on your individual circumstances. The type of bankruptcy you are filing, as well as whether or not the spouses are filing a joint bankruptcy petition, will often dictate whether it makes more sense to file for bankruptcy before or after your divorce case.
Contact a West Palm Beach Bankruptcy Lawyer
Whether you are considering filing for bankruptcy with your spouse, or you have questions about filing for bankruptcy individually or in connection with your business, it is important to seek legal advice from an attorney. One of the experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley Kaplan & Eller can talk with you today to learn more about your circumstances and to provide you with more information about your options for bankruptcy.