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I've got a spouse. How does marriage affect bankruptcy filings?

You may be struggling with overwhelming debt if you are reading this post. Maybe you went online to do some research about debt relief options. If you have, there is also a high chance that you have at least considered bankruptcy as one of your options. You may have even read a few blog posts or informational pages about bankruptcy.

A quick search and scan of the information about bankruptcy often uses the word "you." This post even began that way, but you may actually be a "we." If significant debt burdens you, your spouse is experiencing the weight of that debt as well. Does that mean that you and your spouse have to file bankruptcy together?

Here are a few things you should know about bankruptcy in Florida if you are married:

  • You do not have to file a joint bankruptcy. You are not required to file a joint bankruptcy simply because you are married. Just as you may take out certain loans in your own name, you can file for bankruptcy alone.
  • You may file jointly. You are not required to file together, but the law does not prohibit you from doing so. The bankruptcy code specifically authorizes joint cases under section 302, and it may be more beneficial to address your debt situation in conjunction with your spouse.
  • If you file independently, it may still affect your spouse. Although you file separately, your spouse may have an interest in the property according to statute, by how you structured the ownership of the property or whether or not your spouse co-signed the loan. In joint-ownership or liability situations, you will still have to consider how to handle the debt or surrender the asset.
  • You can save money by filing jointly. In marriage, one partner's financial situation often parallels or depends on the other. Both may need bankruptcy protection at some point. When you file with your spouse, you only have to pay one lawyer for his or her time, and you only have to pay one set of filing fees.

If you are left with more questions than defined answers about your situation after reading this post, that is natural. Just as your marriage is unlike any other, so is your financial situation.

The only way you can understand exactly how an individual or joint bankruptcy would affect you and your spouse is to discuss your financial situation with an attorney.

Keep in mind that, "You always have options to make your financial life better!"

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