If I’m Married, Will My Spouse Have To File Bankruptcy With Me?
No. Keep in mind, however, that only the person filing for bankruptcy gets the benefit of the automatic stay and the discharge. So, if you and your spouse have joint debts and only you file bankruptcy, then those creditors will still be able to pursue your spouse for collection, unless you file for Chapter 13 and propose in your plan to pay those joint debts in full.
Being married, however, does not necessarily make one obligated for the debts of the spouse. Nor does merely being an authorized user on a credit card make that person personally liable. Only the person who signed the loan documents or credit application is liable for the debt.
Make sure to carefully check your documents to see who in fact signed them. One exception to this is taxes. Filing a joint tax return makes both spouses liable for the tax, regardless of whose tax it is.
If you and your spouse own property jointly, that property may be subject to liquidation in the rare case where the property is not fully exempt.
As far as your credit reports, you and your spouse each have a separate file and credit score, so your bankruptcy filing by itself should not appear on your spouse’s credit report. However, in the case of joint debts, there is some uncertainty at the present time as to whether it is lawful to report the bankruptcy of one debtor on the credit report of the spouse who is not in bankruptcy. Some judges consider that to be an attempt to collect the debt and a violation of the automatic stay, while others do not.
As far as future credit is concerned, the bankruptcy of one spouse will have some effect on the ability of the nonfiling spouse to obtain credit in the future if credit is applied for jointly. Otherwise, it should not.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.