Will my Spouse find out if I filed Bankruptcy in New York City?

Married people in New York City have the option of filing bankruptcy jointly with their spouse, or individually without their spouse.  Everyone has an individual credit score and credit history, so your husband or wife’s bankruptcy will not affect your credit report and vice versa for individual debts.  In some cases there may be a mention of bankruptcy for joint debts on your credit report. 


Generally speaking, if you file bankruptcy your spouse isn’t usually involved in the process.  In some cases you may need to provide proof of your spouse’s income in the form of a paystub from their employer.  If you are filing a Chapter 13 in New York City you may also need your spouse’s signature on an affidavit of contribution if they will be helping you fund your Chapter 13 repayment plan. 


Once you file your petition the court will send a letter to your home acknowledging your filing, but no one will call your home or come to the house after you start the bankruptcy process.  In fact the “automatic stay” provision that goes into effect upon your filing bankruptcy actually specifically forbids anyone from coming to your home or calling you in regards to your bankruptcy.  Filing bankruptcy is more discreet than most of our clients realize, and in many cases their spouse wouldn’t even have know had they not told them about it. 


This is actually rather ironic when you think about it.  While it’s true that bankruptcy is a matter of public record, it’s still more private than most people think.  If you have serious debt trouble and you don’t file bankruptcy on the other hand then you, your spouse and your family will probably be on the receiving end of all types of harassing and threatening communications from your creditors.  Letters from creditors will start pouring in.  The phone calls will not stop.  Your wages could be garnished, car repossessed and home foreclosed upon.  If they don’t know already, your spouse will surely be made aware of your financial troubles if you don’t file bankruptcy. 


The reality is if you file bankruptcy the only way a spouse will find out is if they pull a public records search or if you give them permission to pull your credit report.  Most spouses simply do not pull public records searches on their husbands and wives, so it’s unlikely they will find out about your bankruptcy from anyone but you.  That being said, bankruptcy is public information, so there is no guarantee your spouse will not find out it.  Every marriage is different, so you’ll have to decide for yourself how to inform your spouse of your decision to file.  Our best advice is that it’s probably best that they hear about it from you first.


If you are considering bankruptcy and live in New York City please contact the Law Offices of William Waldner online or at 212.244.2882 to arrange a free bankruptcy consultation.  We only practice bankruptcy law and maintain a 100% Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge record in New York City as or 2/16/2014.  We understand how complicated money troubles can affect a healthy marriage and are here to help you discreetly eliminate your debt and get you the fresh start you are entitled to under the law. 


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