While it may make sense for both spouses to file in a bankruptcy, a qualified Charlotte bankruptcy attorney will walk you through the options that suit your particular situation best. Typically, married couples hold debt in many different ways, so it makes sense to analyze the specifics of your situation before making a choice. Filing jointly may provide more debt relief, but there are other concerns to consider.
My Spouse’s Credit
One reason to file individually is to preserve the credit of one spouse. In cases where spouses do not hold debt jointly, this is typically a clear option. The filing spouse receives a discharge for the debt in his name, and the non-filing spouse retains her good credit, along with her debts.
North Carolina is not a Community Property state, so even where a married couple holds joint debt, if the non-filing spouse keeps payments current on her debt, her credit score will not be affected.
In a Chapter 13 filing, the automatic stay is effective for the co-debtor on consumer debt. This means that if one spouse files and another does not, and they hold joint debt, even if they are not paying on that joint debt, creditors cannot pursue collections against either spouse. So the calls stop, and you get to preserve your credit at the same time. Not only that, but for joint debt, creditors cannot repossess property or foreclose on your spouse just because she didn’t file.
This automatic stay remains in effect until the bankruptcy is over. However, once the bankruptcy concludes, the creditor can resume attempts to collect against the non-filing spouse for those joint debts. At that time, the hope is that you’re able to make payments on that debt because of the relief the bankruptcy provides.
A Backup Plan
Another reason to have one spouse file is to provide a backup plan if you get into a spot where you cannot make your Chapter 13 payments. If the first filing is dismissed for non-payment, the non-filing spouse could consider filing a new Chapter 13 to get relief from creditors.
Talk To A Lawyer
Debt can be all-consuming. It’s not your job to know the law. But do know that you have options. Call me if you’d like more information or have a question. Answering questions is part of my job. 704.749.7747. You can also email me HERE