No, you do not have to file bankruptcy with your spouse. If your spouse has little debt it would generally not be advisable to file a joint case since the good credit of the non-filing spouse could be maintained in case of a financial emergency.
However, it is often advisable to file a joint case if there are joint debts or your spouse has their own debts. If only one spouse files bankruptcy the family’s income must still be used to pay the bills of the non-filing spouse, which debts might have been discharged through bankruptcy. The legal fee and filing fee will usually be the same whether one or both spouses file. It is not uncommon for one spouse not to initially file, only to find themselves filing bankruptcy years later. We will help you make this important decision during the initial free consultation.
If a joint case is filed, the cases are really to two separate cases which are jointly administered for convenience. Therefore, if there are non-exempt assets which belong to only one spouse, those non-exempt assets will generally only be used to pay that spouse’s creditors.
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