How can I keep my spouse out of my bankruptcy in New York City?

Married couples in New York City are not required to file for bankruptcy jointly in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case.  If you file alone however you are required to share certain financial information about your spouse in your bankruptcy petition, and on the bankruptcy means test.  Since you are legally married any income your spouse has will have to be applied to your case.  At first brush this fact gives many people the impression that there is no way to keep their spouse out of their bankruptcy, and that they must file jointly if they are married.  This is not the only way.  Depending on the debts you share and would like to discharge then filing jointly with your spouse may be the best way to go. However, we have found many married couples are actually given more overall bankruptcy protection and a higher overall discharge of debts by filing alone, or with two separate bankruptcies.

It may be the case that one spouse has a lot of individual debt, but as a couple there are very few or no joint debts.  It would make sense for one spouse to file alone, and for the other spouse to wait to file for bankruptcy until they really need it.  So it may be pretty cut and dry that filing alone is the way to go.

Sometimes also, maybe for personal reasons, or a disagreement, it is just not possible to file with your spouse, and you may be forced into a situation where you have no other choice but to file alone.  All is not lost, there are still many bankruptcy strategies that can be employed in New York that will give you the protection you need even if your spouse cannot or will not file with you jointly.  You will need to consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney right away.

If you and your spouse are on the same page, then to provide the best overall results from bankruptcy protection for your family, your attorney will take the whole financial picture into consideration.  Depending on lifestyle, income, living situation as well as the available state exemptions in New York, your attorney will have numerous legal ways to give your family the most overall financial relief.  It is what you are paying them for, and they may advise a joint bankruptcy, a single bankruptcy, or two well timed independent bankruptcies.  At the end of the day, just because the bankruptcy code says you must include your spouse in your bankruptcy petition doesn’t necessarily mean you should file jointly to receive the most protection.

If you and your spouse live in New York City and are considering bankruptcy, but are still undecided as a couple please give the Law Offices of William Waldner a call at 212-244-2882 to schedule a free consultation today.  We are more than happy to sit down with you and your spouse to lay out the pros and cons of bankruptcy protection for your family.  There is no guessing,you will know exactly what results to expect.  As of 8/31/16 we have a 99% Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge record.

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