You can file a joint bankruptcy or file for bankruptcy on your own even if you have previously received a discharge, provided that you meet the time limitations laid out in the Bankruptcy Code. In order to qualify for a joint bankruptcy discharge, neither you nor your spouse can have a discharge on your records within the allotted time periods discussed below.
Duration in between bankruptcy discharges:
- eight years after a previous Chapter 7 to file another Chapter 7;
- four years after a Chapter 7 to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy; and
- six years after filing a Chapter 13 to file either a Chapter 7 or another Chapter 13.
Your spouse will have to meet these guidelines, too, if you want to file a new bankruptcy jointly. For example, if your last bankruptcy was more than eight years ago, but your spouse filed for bankruptcy less than eight years ago, you will not be able to file a joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy you will either have to wait to the eight-year mark to file together; or file for bankruptcy on your own.
Filing Jointly vs Solo
The law gives you the option of filing for bankruptcy jointly with your spouse or on your own. If you fill jointly, all or both your and your spouse’s debts, assets, income, etc. will be accounted for in the case.
If you decide to file on your own, only your debts can be discharged, not your spouse’s. However, your spouse’s assets will be protected and your bankruptcy will not affect his or her credit report.
There are pros and cons to filing jointly, and a lot of things to take into consideration before filing. If you have a lot of joint debt, filing jointly is likely the best option. However, if most of the debt is in your name and your spouse doesn’t need to file, it may be best to file solo. Speak with a local bankruptcy attorney to determine which option best suits your situation.
Property Exemptions when Filing a Joint Bankruptcy
If you file a joint bankruptcy, all communal property and all your personal property becomes part of the bankruptcy and may be liquidated. You are allowed a certain amount of exemptions, though. Exemptions are assets that you are allowed to keep that will not be subject to repossession; they are safe from creditors.
If you’re in Texas, you can choose the state’s exemptions or federal exemptions, but you cannot pick and choose from each set of exemptions – you must pick one.
Texas allows for exemptions such as:
- your house;
- one car per household member (with driver’s license); and
- a certain amount of personal property (the figure is based on the number of people in your household).
If you decide to file a joint bankruptcy, you and your spouse are both allowed the exemptions, which means you can essentially double your exemptions. To determine what property you are allowed to keep or to discuss the best route you should take for debt relief, consult a lawyer in your area.
Our Bankruptcy Attorneys are Here for You
To discuss the specificities of your case and determine how you should move forward with your debt relief, contact our bankruptcy attorneys at Warren & Migliaccio. We serve individuals and couples in Dallas and surrounding areas, so call us today at (888) 584-9614 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.