Do I Have to Include my Girlfriend or Boyfriend in my Bankruptcy in New York?

This is a sensitive issue for most couples, especially if they have only been living together for a short time. Your personal finances may not have even been discussed in the relationship yet, but you may be sharing some expenses nevertheless.  Bankruptcy law does not allow unmarried couples to file together, so in the opinion of our law office there is no need for you to pull your boyfriend or girlfriend into your bankruptcy unnecessarily.  Some attorneys view this topic differently, but we always do our best to avoid involving people in bankruptcy cases that don’t need to be.

You can’t file your taxes jointly unless you are married, so why should you have to bring your boyfriend or girlfriend into your bankruptcy?  While specific laws governing taxes and bankruptcy are different, the concept is generally the same. Like your tax return, when you file bankruptcy you are asked to check a box indicating whether you are married or not.  There is no box for boyfriend or girlfriend, and like your accountant, a bankruptcy trustee generally doesn’t care about your non-marital relationship status.  The question gets more complicated in the bankruptcy means test because you will be asked questions about your household that could technically include information about your live in boyfriend or girlfriend’s finances. If you are near or over the means test the issue of their involvement becomes trickier. You need to consult an attorney that is willing to review your options.

Some attorneys will say that your boyfriend or girlfriend’s income must be included in your bankruptcy petition because a trustee will use a “heads on beds” analysis in determining your household income. It is actually more complicated than this, and a strong argument exists against the “heads on beds analysis”, especially when the household expenses are not being split evenly.  Bankruptcy trustees follow IRS guidelines closely for many issues, and a good attorney in New York should be able to help you avoid having to include your boyfriend or girlfriend in your bankruptcy.

We understand that some of our clients want to maintain their financial privacy or at the very least avoid involving a loved one in their bankruptcy.  After all, you’re not married until you’re married. You might be emotionally married to them, but you are not financially or legally married under the eyes of the law and you should use this to your benefit when considering bankruptcy.

Every case is different so the advice of a qualified attorney is essential when deciding to include your boyfriend or girlfriend in your bankruptcy.  If you live in New York City and are facing this problem please give the Law Office of William Waldner a call at 212-244-2882 for a free bankruptcy consultation today.  We only practice bankruptcy law and can help all couples gay, straight, married, or not find the debt relief and financial fresh start they deserve. Unless it is to your specific advantage to include your boyfriend or girlfriend we will explore every legal way to keep them out of it, and have had a lot of success doing so in New York.  We have a 99% Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge record as of 8/31/16.

This article is intended for educational purposes only. By reading this article no attorney-client relationship has been created.