If you’re married and you live in Utah, you can file for bankruptcy alone. State law does not require you to file a joint petition with your spouse, so the choice is yours.
However, the decision on whether to file for bankruptcy individually or together is not one you should take lightly. You need to consider both your current debt situation and your long-term financial goals – and in the end, the better bankruptcy filing option is the one that leaves you with less debt and allows you to keep more of your property.
For most married couples, filing a joint bankruptcy claim is the right move. But, in certain circumstances, going it alone may be best. Before you decide which route to take, consult with an experienced local bankruptcy attorney. Meanwhile, the following information may help.
Why Filing for Bankruptcy as an Individual May Make Sense
Opting to file for bankruptcy without your spouse could be beneficial in a few different situations. You may want to consider this approach if:
- Your spouse’s income affects your ability to qualify for Chapter 7
- You and your spouse share few or no joint debts
- Your spouse has no dischargeable debts
- You came into the marriage with a large amount of individual debt
- You cannot exempt all of your combined assets in a joint bankruptcy claim
- You want to avoid damaging your spouse’s credit score, as you plan to buy a new house or vehicle in their name soon
Why Filing a Joint Bankruptcy Petition Could Be a Better Plan
If none of the above circumstances apply in your case, filing for bankruptcy with your spouse may be wise. Reasons to consider a joint filing include:
File for bankruptcy individually, and your spouse will still be liable for debts that are in both of your names. File together, and all dischargeable joint debts will disappear.
Filing a joint bankruptcy petition in Utah means you can double your exemptions. This may help you keep more of your property.
If both you and your spouse plan to file for bankruptcy at some point, a joint petition can save on filing fees and attorney costs. With two separate bankruptcies, your expenses will be higher.
Should You File for Bankruptcy with or Without Your Spouse?
Ultimately, the decision on whether to file an individual or joint bankruptcy petition boils down to which option will provide the better outcome.
Every married couple has a unique financial situation and different future goals, so figuring out which approach to take requires careful consideration. Your individual and joint debts, assets and incomes are all factors, as is the impact on both of your credit scores.
Because of everything that goes into the decision, getting personal advice from an experienced local bankruptcy attorney is a good idea. If you and your spouse need guidance, the Law Office of Davis & Jones, P.C., can help. With nearly 40 years of combined legal experience and over 20,000 personal bankruptcies under their belts, our lawyers are experts in debt relief.
The Law Office of Davis & Jones, P.C., offers free attorney consultations to individuals and couples in northern Utah. If you plan to file for bankruptcy and want personalized, expert legal advice, contact our Salt Lake City office today.
NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Contact an attorney to obtain legal advice.