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Filing Bankruptcy Without Your Spouse: Can You Do It?

Updated: Feb 10

Filing bankruptcy while married

Choosing to file bankruptcy while married is a difficult decision that can be even more complicated when you are married. A lot of folks wonder if you can file without your spouse, and if so, how it will impact your finances? The good news is that it is possible to file for bankruptcy without your spouse, but there are some things you need to consider before making this important decision. In this post, we provide you with information you need to know about filing bankruptcy without your spouse. We also discuss factors you need to consider when deciding whether to file individually and the potential downsides of doing so. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of whether a joint filing or individual filing without your spouse is the best option for your financial situation.

If I File Bankruptcy While Married, Does My Spouse Have to File With Me?

When filing bankruptcy while married, you have the option to file individually or with your spouse. Filing separately can protect your spouse's credit score and assets, but their income will impact the means test calculation because the bankruptcy trustee considers your household income when reviewing when evaluating the means test results. Consider your financial situation, assets, and debts to determine the best approach.

Deciding If Filing Bankruptcy Without Your Spouse is Right for You

Sometimes filing bankruptcy without your spouse can make the most sense, especially if most debts are owed only by one spouse. However, only the filing spouse gets a discharge. Understanding the impact on joint property and debts is crucial. Consider consulting a trusted bankruptcy lawyer to navigate the complicated process. Review your financial information and the impact on your credit report before making a decision.

Married couple deciding whether to file bankruptcy jointly

Factors to Consider When Deciding to File Individually

If you file bankruptcy while married, you can protect your spouse's separate property but property that the two of you own jointly will potentially be impacted. If the two of you owe jointly on any debt, those creditors can demand payment from the non-filing spouse. Additionally, the non-filing spouse's income must be disclosed and considered in Chapter 7 bankruptcy eligibility. Your spouse's name will also be included in your petition as a non-filing spouse. Deciding to file individually requires careful consideration of these factors to ensure the best possible outcome.

When Filing Bankruptcy Without Your Spouse Make Sense

There are various factors to consider when deciding to file bankruptcy without your spouse. If all of the debts you owe on are only in your name, then filing an individual bankruptcy petition may make sense. Sometimes one spouse will have significant medical debt or personal loans that are only in their name while the other spouse only has a small amount of debt. If that's the case for you then as a general rule an individual bankruptcy filing may not be a bad idea. Filing separately may protect your spouse's credit if they aren't liable for the debts. It's essential to consult a trusted bankruptcy attorney to determine if this is the right choice.

Potential Downsides of Filing Without Your Spouse

Filing for bankruptcy alone could impact joint assets and community debts, as they become part of the bankruptcy estate. In a community property state, community assets may be liable for debts incurred by one spouse. If spouses are jointly responsible for a debt, only the filing spouse's obligation is discharged meaning that only the filing spouse will get financial relief from the bankruptcy case. Furthermore, the automatic stay won't apply to the non-filing spouse’s credit card debt.

Is Filing Bankruptcy Without My Spouse the Best Option for Me?

Determining if filing bankruptcy without your spouse is the best option depends on your unique financial situation. Consider your debts, jointly owned property, and seek legal advice to make an informed decision. Sometimes a joint bankruptcy is a good thing and in your best interest even if it doesn't immediately seem that way.


Filing bankruptcy without your spouse is a complex decision that depends on various factors. It is not always necessary for both spouses to file together, but it may be beneficial in certain situations. Consider factors such as joint debts, individual assets, and the impact on your credit score. While filing individually may provide some advantages, it can also have potential downsides, such as limited protection for joint debts. It is crucial to seek professional advice and evaluate your specific circumstances before making a decision. Book a free consultation with our experts to understand the best option for you and navigate through the process with confidence.

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