If filing bankruptcy when married, joint or separate filing is available. Each comes with certain benefits and drawbacks that couples should discuss with Plano bankruptcy lawyers as they begin the process. There are many rules and laws associated with bankruptcy, which is why it’s so important to have an idea of what the options are before attempting to file.
Choices for Filing for Bankruptcy in Texas: Filing Jointly
If going through bankruptcy when married, couples need to decide whether they will file separately or together and should examine this decision with their Plano bankruptcy lawyer. There are good points to both, depending on the situation.
Filing bankruptcy jointly simply means that both spouses bring their debts and property into the bankruptcy, including debt and property acquired together during marriage. This is a good idea for many couples who acquired a lot of debt and property during marriage rather than prior to marriage because Texas is a community property state.
This means that all debts and assets (if incurred or acquired during the marriage) are seen as belonging to both spouses. When one files for bankruptcy jointly, the combined assets will be taken into consideration when creating a liquidation or repayment plan, and spouses may even include separate debts in the bankruptcy, too.
Filing together can also reduce costs, as only one fee will be required instead of two if filing two separate petitions.
Additionally, if filing jointly couples may be able to take better advantage of bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions are available for houses, cars and many other items and allow filers to keep assets that are under a certain dollar amount. Texas allows married couples double the exemptions allowed for single filers.
In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in which assets are sold in order to satisfy debts, filers can keep their exempt property. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy – which takes assets into consideration when reorganizing debt – exempted property is not counted as assets.
Choices for Filing for Bankruptcy in Texas: Filing Separately
Married couples should also speak with their Plano bankruptcy lawyer about the option of filing separately for bankruptcy when married, which simply means that the bankruptcy petitions will be separate, or only one spouse is going to file for bankruptcy. Keep in mind that even if you file separately, any community property will be included in the bankruptcy process.
So filing separately for bankruptcy when married might be a good idea if the couple does not have much community property and only one spouse has acquired most of the debt. This way, the spouse who did not accrue the debt can avoid filing for bankruptcy in Texas and can keep his or her separate property safe from the process.
Separately filing for bankruptcy in Texas may also be a better option if going through a divorce. While a couple may still file jointly if separated, doing so jointly may create problems during the divorce proceedings and cooperation may be an issue.
Further, even if a couple wishes to file jointly, only one spouse may be eligible to do so if the other spouse had filed for bankruptcy recently (within eight years for Chapter 7, or six years for Chapter 13).
A Plano Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Help Evaluate Bankruptcy Choices When Married
While the emotional aspects of financial stress are very real and need to be dealt with, the legal side of debt crisis also needs to addressed. A couple that is living with frequent debt collection calls, letters, garnishment of wages and other stressful situations can take steps to remedy the credit issues and move on with their lives by filing for bankruptcy in Texas.
Bankruptcy can be a confusing and difficult time for a married couple and it’s not the best choice for everybody with financial problems. But with the proper legal guidance and support from Plano bankruptcy lawyers, one can evaluate choices and come through the process successfully, whether you file jointly or separately for bankruptcy when married.