How does my marital status affect my bankruptcy filing?

Despite the term "individual bankruptcy," a person's bankruptcy filing can impact the whole family. For Mississippi families seeking relief from overwhelming debt, a personal bankruptcy can allow for a new financial beginning that can benefit spouses as well as children. Still, while bankruptcy offers many benefits to one's family, there are often plenty of questions that must be answered before filing. One question is how a filer's marital status or situation will affect their bankruptcy case.

First, it's important to know that a married individual can still file for bankruptcy on his or her own. At the same time, a married couple can also jointly file for bankruptcy. It may be helpful to speak with a local bankruptcy attorney regarding which option is best for one's personal and family circumstances. Filing alone may make sense if only one spouse has massive debt. Filing together may prove more appropriate if both spouses have significant debt that needs to either be discharged or reorganized under a repayment plan.

Filing jointly may save a couple money, since two individuals filing separately could mean extra fees to file. If either spouse is filing for Chapter 7, being married can affect the filing because a spouse's income may be used to determine initial eligibility. Chapter 7 can discharge certain types of debts, such as credit card debt and medical expenses, which can mire families in financial struggle. However, some types of debts are not dischargeable under Chapter 7, such as spousal support obligations.

Filing for bankruptcy can raise many questions for a Southaven family. By consulting with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, families can obtain peace of mind regarding their potential financial solutions.

Source: Lambda Legal, "After DOMA: Bankruptcy," accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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