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Married Bankruptcy Filers: Should You File Jointly or Individually?

If I am married, is it better to file individually or jointly in Ohio?

Married couples in Ohio have an important decision to make when it comes to filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Filers can elect to file either jointly or individually, and this decision can impact the family’s finances.  Whether you should file a joint or single petition will depend on several factors, including the types of property you hold, the amount and nature of your debt, and whether your property is separate or community property.  Our Ohio Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers examine some factors you should consider when completing your joint or individual bankruptcy petition.

What Debts Are You Seeking to Eliminate?

One of your first considerations in deciding whether to file jointly or separately should be which debts you are trying to erase in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  By filing jointly, you can eliminate all dischargeable debts owed either jointly or separately. However, if only one of you file for bankruptcy, the spouse not included in the bankruptcy petition will remain liable for his or her own debts and any joint debts.  Accordingly, potential filers with significant joint debts should generally file jointly to ensure both spouses receive the benefits of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

How Much Property Do You Own?

Married filers should also consider how much property they own when electing to file a joint or single petition.  When you file jointly, assets owned by you and your spouse will be included in the bankruptcy.  The court will consider joint and separately held assets.  In Ohio, married couples filing jointly can double the bankruptcy exemptions, allowing you to protect more property.  Filers should closely examine whether the increased exemption will be sufficient to protect all of your valued property.

Filing for bankruptcy is never an easy decision, but with the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, you can carefully determine whether a joint or individual bankruptcy is your best option.  While bankruptcy is a big step, it can offer tremendous benefits for families struggling with burdensome debt.  Contact a bankruptcy attorney in your area today to start on the path towards debt relief.

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