Married couples do not both have to file for bankruptcy. The truth that fuels this myth is that if the debts were incurred together or during the marriage then both spouses are considered to be co-debtors. If one of the debtors files for bankruptcy and is successfully able to discharge all of the debts under their name, the creditors will just turn to the other spouse to collect the debt. This is why married couples are usually advised to file jointly.
Having one spouse file for bankruptcy is an attractive option for newlyweds in which one spouse has good credit and the other spouse is bringing a lot of debt into the marriage. Since the debt was not incurred during the marriage the other spouse is not considered to be a co-debtor. If this is your situation, you should act quickly. Once a married couple is together for awhile they are bound to incur joint debt. Then it just complicates the situation and makes it more difficult to discern whether the non-filing spouse is liable for the debts as well.
Another very common situation in which only one spouse files bankruptcy is when the couple is approaching divorce. Section 523 of the bankruptcy code lists all of the debts that are not dischargeable and includes any debts that were “ordered in a decree entered in any court of the United States or contained in any settlement agreement entered into by the debtor,” among other things. Since debts are commonly divided between the parties by the Courts in decrees and by the parties themselves in settlement agreements, it is wise to consider your options with respect to bankruptcy when confronted with an inevitable divorce. Sands Wegner, PLC / Husker Law practices extensively in family law and bankruptcy. Contact Aaron Wegner or Michael Sands today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss whether or not bankruptcy is an option for you, your spouse, or both of you.