It can be very difficult for couples to decide the best time for filing for bankruptcy, especially for the ones who are planning to get married. Although married couples can file for joint or separate bankruptcy, marriage does make it difficult for them to qualify for the bankruptcy which they wish to file for.
A joint bankruptcy filing is a better option for couples, as it allows them to get rid of their debts together in one bankruptcy. Thus, they will not have to go for hearings separately. The filing fees for an individual filing or a joint bankruptcy are the same, so joint filing will help the couple in saving money. Even the attorney’s fees will also be less in joint-filing than the fees for two separate filings.
However, depending on the couple’s assets, income and debts, a joint bankruptcy filing might not prove to be favorable for the couple. Getting married can make it difficult for the couple to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
It is compulsory for an individual or a couple to pass the means test to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In this test, the filer’s income is compared with the median income (as per the similar household) of the filer’s state. Married filers are supposed to include their partner’s income too on the means test, even if both the partners are not filing for bankruptcy. Since the median income of a household of two people is not twice of a single household, a married couple might not be able to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy despite qualifying for it separately. In Florida, the means test of a single household and a household of two persons has a difference of less than $10,000.00.
Also, if only one partner is under debt, a joint filing might not be a good idea. In such a case, it is better for that partner to file for an individual bankruptcy than a joint filing. However, the non-filing partner’s income will also be included in the means test. The couple’s jointly-owned property will be a part of the bankruptcy estate, but the non-filing partner’s individual properties will not be included in it. However, there is one exception to this rule in case of a community property state. In such states, like Texas, the assets of both the filing and the non-filing partners are included. The bankruptcy trustee then decides which assets should be included in the bankruptcy estate and which should not. Florida is not considered as a community property state.
To learn more about filing for joint bankruptcy, consult one of the most experienced bankruptcy lawyers of Los Angeles & Dallas, TX. You can visit them at Recovery Law Group or call them on 888-297-6203.