Can a Spouse File Bankruptcy Without the Other Spouse?

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“I live in California, am married and in debt with credit cards. Can a wife file bankruptcy without her husband if he is not on any of the credit cards?”

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The very short answer is “probably yes, that person can file.” The question that you did not ask, and would need the analysis of a bankruptcy attorney would be “would the debts be dischargeable?” If the debt was built up during the time of the marriage, it would be be possible for the debtors to look beyond the name on the card and get relief to go after the other spouse. If some of the debt was for certain things like support or taxes, that debt may also be non-dischargeable. In addition if some of the debt was for payments to the other spouse (or others like family members) the creditors would have an argument that there has been a preferential payment that is voidable. There are other factors too numerous to list here. Depending on whether there is any marital property, whether any of the debt is community, the amount of debt, and whether under your circumstance you can get relief will help form the decision whether to file, and, if so, should the named spouse go it alone. A trip to a debt counselor, or a bankruptcy attorney would be a good next step.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.