Protecting Your Rights And Your Future

Can one spouse file for bankruptcy and not the other?

On Behalf of | Aug 11, 2020 | Personal Bankruptcy

Financial troubles can lead to dire debt situations. If debt levels reach a high enough point, filing bankruptcy can be a possible solution for Arkansas residents. Both single persons and married couples can file for bankruptcy, but what happens if someone wishes to file for bankruptcy independent of his or her spouse?

Can just one spouse file bankruptcy?

Yes, a married person can file personal bankruptcy. The person can do so while their spouse does not. There are many things to take into consideration before making any decisions. The amount of household debt would be one item to look at closely.

One crucial question to ask is, “Who owes most of the debt?” If one spouse is heavily in debt on accounts in his or her name alone, and the other spouse doesn’t have any financial problems, filing for bankruptcy alone may make sense. Regardless, it might be wise to discuss all strategies with an attorney first.

Community property versus common-law states

Whether a state is or isn’t a community property state can also factor into bankruptcy proceedings. In community property states, all property acquired during the marriage belongs to both spouses. That can create a complex situation during bankruptcy filings. Arkansas, however, is not a community property state. As a common-law state, the person who bought the property during the marriage owns it.

Jointly held debts

Jointly held debts may create some complexities, as well. What if the spouses have a joint credit card that is maxed out? The spouse filing for bankruptcy could procure debt collection protection. The other spouse may receive a “co-debtor” stay providing protection from collection action on the jointly held debts.

Meeting with an attorney to discuss personal bankruptcy laws and rules could clarify many questions. Both spouses might choose to attend the meeting. An attorney could represent a client in bankruptcy court. Doing so might move the process along more efficiently.