How Bankruptcy Affects Your Spouse
Aug. 28, 2023
Filing for bankruptcy is one of the promising solutions for individuals and married couples going through financial hardship to achieve debt relief. In Texas, spouses who are legally married are allowed to file for bankruptcy either separately or jointly as a couple. However, before you file your bankruptcy petition, it is imperative to understand how it affects your partner to help you make intelligent decisions.
Attorney Gwendolyn E. Hunt is poised and ready to represent couples in their bankruptcy cases. As an experienced Texas bankruptcy lawyer, she can enlighten you about the benefits and downsides of filing for bankruptcy individually or jointly and help you decide the right choice for your specific situation. Her firm proudly serves clients across DeSoto, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas.
Separate Property vs. Community Property in Texas
In Texas, assets, property, and debts owned by married couples may be classified into separate property and marital (community) property.
Separate property includes all assets and property owned by only one spouse prior to your marriage. In addition, separate property may include inheritance, personal gifts acquired during the marriage, and personal injury settlements.
Conversely, community property or marital property includes all assets, property, and debts accumulated by the spouses during the course of their marriage. Common examples of marital property include the marital home, motor vehicles, royalties, credit card charges, furniture pieces, rents, income, bank accounts, stocks, pension plans, 401k accounts, and all other assets accrued during the couple's marriage.
Filing for Bankruptcy as an Individual
Filing for bankruptcy in Texas usually involves several complicated processes. Whether you are filing individually, simultaneously as separate entities, or jointly with your spouse, understanding the pros, cons, and other vital considerations can help you make intelligent decisions.
As mentioned earlier, married couples can file their bankruptcy petition individually, or, at the same time as separate entities. Here are some benefits and drawbacks of filing for bankruptcy as an individual:
It can help wipe out some of the general unsecured debt of the indebted spouse.
The separate assets of the non-filing spouse will be protected in bankruptcy.
It allows you to protect more assets and property by filing together as separate entities.
You can preserve the good credit rating of the non-filing spouse.
Creditors may go after the assets and income of the non-filing spouse.
If you're legally married, you must include the non-filing spouse's earnings.
Filing at the same time as separate entities will result in additional attorney fees and court costs.
You may fail the Chapter 7 "means test" if you and your partner make a significant income.
Filing for Bankruptcy as a Couple
Alternatively, couples who are lawfully married may file their bankruptcy petition together in Texas. This is referred to as joint bankruptcy. The following cover some pros and cons of filing bankruptcy as a couple:
It can help save court costs and attorney fees.
It allows the couples to keep more assets and property.
It eliminates both spouses' general unsecured debts.
You only need to file one bankruptcy petition, which makes your bankruptcy case more efficient and convenient.
It helps streamline the entire bankruptcy proceedings.
It allows couples to double their exemptions.
Both spouses' credit ratings will be affected.
Only one spouse could file for bankruptcy if their partner filed for bankruptcy recently.
If you're facing financial difficulties and considering filing for bankruptcy, you should speak with a practiced bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Your legal counsel can determine whether you should file jointly or individually and educate you about the various factors to consider before you file.
Factors to Consider
When deciding whether to file bankruptcy individually or jointly, here are some crucial factors to consider:
The amount of marital or separate property you own.
The spouse who owes most of the debts.
Whether you are separated or thinking about divorce.
Whether you or your spouse previously filed for bankruptcy.
A dedicated bankruptcy lawyer can assess all of the surrounding facts of your case and help you make informed decisions about your financial situation.
Helping Texas Clients Through Bankruptcy
When considering bankruptcy, consulting with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney is imperative for trusted advocacy and to determine the best course of action.
Attorney Gwendolyn E. Hunt has devoted her career to guiding individuals and couples through the complexities of bankruptcy. As your lawyer, she can work to understand your unique situation, explore your possible legal options, and help you make informed legal decisions.
Contact Hunt Law Firm today to schedule a simple consultation with a dedicated bankruptcy lawyer. Attorney Gwendolyn E. Hunt can offer you the highly personalized legal counsel and assistance you need to navigate crucial decisions in your bankruptcy case. The firm proudly serves clients across DeSoto, Fort Worth, and Dallas, Texas.