For better or worse, is included in many marriage vows throughout the United States. This phrase is meant to encompass the good and bad parts of life, knowing that each of you will stick with each other even when times are hard. Bankruptcy is one such life event that could easily fall into the “worse” category of this timeless marriage vow. However, it doesn’t mean this is an ending. Even though filing bankruptcy can put a strain on the strongest of relationships, there is a light at the end of the road. Bankruptcy by itself is a complex beast, and when you add in property from a non-filing spouse and equitable distribution laws, bankruptcy becomes downright perplexing. That’s where we come in.
If you or your spouse is facing bankruptcy, the quicker you take control of the situation, the better the outcome. Hiring a Naples bankruptcy lawyer to assist you in sorting out your financial and legal case is the best solution to making this entire process as quick and as painless as possible. Call the Naples law offices of Miller, Hollander, & Jeda to discuss your options. We are here to help.
This article discusses information regarding filing for bankruptcy while married and how that does and does not affect your non-filing spouse.
When you file a petition for bankruptcy, the courts will require that you present the income and asset information of your non-filing spouse for them to determine whether you should be filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Naples. Because of this, many people assume that their spouse’s property may be liquidated in order to pay off any outstanding debts; this is only partially true.
In Florida and many other states, the property that you and your spouse own is based on the “equitable distribution” law. This means the marital property is divided in an agreed-upon way, which is set by various factors that consider the financial responsibility and ownership of each spouse. In comparison to the community property laws in other states that divide marital property down the middle, equitable distribution is more flexible but also more complex. There is no one-size-fits-all formula. Your Naples bankruptcy attorney can help you to identify what property will be exempt and what property will not be.
Property that is jointly owned and is considered to be part of the bankruptcy estate is non-exempt. This means bank accounts and assets with both spouses’ names listed on the account are subject to liquidation. Additionally, if there is joint property, the spouse (whether or not he or she is filing) may potentially be subject to debt collection.
No, your spouse’s credit will not be negatively impacted if you decide to file for individual bankruptcy. Usually, when a married person decides to file personal bankruptcy, it is because he or she wishes to absolve themselves of their substantial debt without lowering their spouse’s credit score.
In some cases, both spouses need to file for bankruptcy in Naples. Depending on your situation, though, it may be smarter to file separately rather than jointly. For example, if you live a state that does not allow each spouse to claim the full amount of each exemption (called doubling) it may be wiser to file two individual bankruptcies to protect more of your property. However, Florida is one of the states that does allow “doubling” when you file for bankruptcy jointly. If this is the case for you, your Naples bankruptcy attorney will most likely advise you to file a joint bankruptcy petition rather than an individual bankruptcy petition.
Additionally, filing two separate bankruptcy cases will result in extra attorney and court fees.
If you or your spouse is considering filing individual bankruptcy or you both are considering filing a joint bankruptcy petition to discharge your debts, contact the Naples bankruptcy attorneys at Miller, Hollander & Jeda. Since 1992, we have used our extensive knowledge of Florida’s bankruptcy laws to help solve hundreds of businesses, individuals, and couples’ financial problems and get them out of unfavorable situations. Let us help you get a fresh start.