Both spouses are not required to file bankruptcy. If you are married, you can file bankruptcy together. But in certain situations, a married couple may not need for both spouses to file bankruptcy. Examples are where most of the debt is only in one spouse’s name, or where one of the spouse has filed bankruptcy before and is not eligible yet for a second filing.
Where there is a remarriage with one (or both spouses) bring debt baggage into the new marriage. These couples face the challenges of a remarriage, but wrestle with sorting out how to handle debt from a prior marriage. While this may be a more complicated case, this type of debt may be addressed through the bankruptcy process. Factors that may be considered in this type of case are: how long the debtor has been married at the time the bankruptcy is filed; how finances are handled, such as a joint bank account or through separate accounts; and how much of the debt was created prior to the marriage.
Pre-bankruptcy planning is especially important in this situation. If the spouse does not file, and the spouse is not obligated on the debt, the spouse’s credit will remain unaffected by the bankruptcy. The nonfiling spouse’s social security number is not listed in the paperwork. A competent bankruptcy lawyer will always analyze whether or not both spouses need to file, and where preferable, only one may file. If both spouses are on all the debt, lifting the burden of debt off of one may not provide full relief for the family unit. So, each scenario will be different and based upon the facts. Consult a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney for assistance in determining the best course of action.