If we accrued debt together can we still file for bankruptcy separately? 28 Answers as of January 18, 2013

I am legally married however we have separated and we both are facing bankruptcy. Although we have been together for many years, we have only been married a couple years. Most debt was accrued while we were together but before being married. The question is can we file a joint bankruptcy being we accrued the debt together even though we are getting a divorce now?

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Benson Law Firm
Benson Law Firm | David Benson
As long as you are married, you can file a joint bankruptcy. In fact, I often suggest to my divorcing clients that they declare bankruptcy first to make sure they are dealing with "real numbers" when it comes to dividing property in divorce. You can, however, file separate petitions if you are indeed separated.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/8/2011
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
I don't see why you would want to file separately unless one of you doesn't qualify under the means test. Many advantages exist for filing jointly but I would have to analyze your situation specifically to advise you properly. If you are in WA, contact me and we can set up a free initial consultation.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 4/7/2011
Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger
Law Offices of Michael T. Krueger | Michael Krueger
In California both the debt you accrue during marriage and assets you gain are considered community. This means that 1/2 of your spouse's debt is considered your debt. If both you and your spouse are filing bankruptcy it would make sense to file jointly as husband and wife. This will reduce the filing fee and attorney fees. If you are filing individually you will each need to pay the filing fee and the attorney's fees associated with the bankruptcy.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/5/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
Yes, in fact, filing a Joint Bankruptcy is an excellent idea because it will simplify issues for both of you during your separation or even if you file for divorce. You can either file separately or jointly - though filing jointly will reduce your costs because you will be hiring one attorney instead of two, paying one filing fee instead of two, and discharging all of the debt together.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 4/5/2011
Cohen & Kendziorra, P.A.
Cohen & Kendziorra, P.A. | Robert S. Cohen
Yes, you can file bankruptcy as an individual or single filer but married. You would list your spouse as a co-debtor on joint debt.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 4/4/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    Yes. Probably be easier to file before divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/4/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    If you are divorced, you can NOT file a joint petition. If you are in the process of divorce, you can file a joint petition as long as it is filed before the divorce is finalized. And, of course, you can always file separate petitions.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 4/4/2011
    Christopher Legal Group
    Christopher Legal Group | Shawn Christopher
    You do not need to file bankruptcy together, but it may be easier and cheaper if you do. However, if you file together it may alter your ability to qualify for certain types of bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 1/19/2011
    Law Office of Harry L Styron
    Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
    The general answer to this question depends on what State you reside in and what point in the divorce procedure you have reached. If you are still married then the answer is generally that you can file a joint bankruptcy, and you can certainly file individually. The question, though, is which of you owes what debt, and that depends on whether you are in one of the 8 community property States, California, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Nevada, Wisconsin and Idaho, or in Louisiana, which is a "civil law" State, or one of the other "common law" States.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/18/2011
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law
    Uriarte & Wood, Attorneys at Law | Robert G. Uriarte
    you may still file jointly and would save yourselves an additional filing fee of $299.00 if you do so. If you file separately, you will both pay a filing fee.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/18/2011
    George Hoselton Bankruptcy Attorney
    George Hoselton Bankruptcy Attorney | George Hoselton
    Yes you can file jointly and while you are living in separate households. It's only advisable to do so If you can complete the filing amicably. It will save you time and money by filing jointly prior to the divorce.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 1/16/2011
    Law Offices of Lady Justice
    Law Offices of Lady Justice | Mona Patel
    You can file a joint petition if you are still married. It sounds as though you have many ongoing issues that may affect your bankruptcy. You should seek further legal advice.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/16/2011
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law
    Diana K. Zilko, Attorney at Law | Diana K. Zilko
    Yes. You can file joint, married, but maintaining separate households. If you have any further questions, please let me know.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/16/2011
    DiManna Law Office, LLC.
    DiManna Law Office, LLC. | Dawn DiManna
    You have asked two different questions - if you are not legally divorced you can file jointly. If you both are going to file, this would save you in attorney's fees and filing fees.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 1/15/2011
    Gus Johnson Attorney at Law
    Gus Johnson Attorney at Law | Gus Johnson
    You should be able to file jointly.
    Answer Applies to: South Dakota
    Replied: 1/15/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed | Robert Weed
    Any married couple can file a joint bankruptcy. Whether that is smart is a different question. It could be that different strategy or different timing would be better for one or the other of you. Unless you are still really close (WHY are you getting divorced?), it's usually worth the money to see separate bankruptcy lawyers.

    I often see the over-responsible party in the marriage get sick and tired of the less responsible person. But still try to save the other party paying their own legal fees by filing together. A lot of the time, that's a mistake.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 1/15/2011
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
    You have asked two exact opposite questions in the same posting. In order to file bankruptcy jointly, you must be married. And yes, you can file separately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    While you are still married you can file jointly and save money assuming you are getting along with each other. Once the dissolution of marriage is final you can no longer file a joint bankruptcy case. You can now file separate cases whether or not you are separated but the filing fee will be twice as much and the attorney's fees will be double since you will be doing two cases. If you are separated you might benefit from filing separate cases if both of you have high income which might disqualify you from filing a Chapter 7 case. You should both go see a local bankruptcy attorney together with information about your incomes in the past six months and a list of your debts. The attorney will then tell you whether you should file together or separately. Whether or not your debts are community debts does not matter. It does not matter when you accrued the debts. The bankruptcy might simplify your divorce by getting rid of the debt that would otherwise take time to allocate in a divorce case. Once all your debt is gone the divorce will be a lot cheaper and more peaceful.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Law Office of Raymond J. Dague, PLLC
    Law Office of Raymond J. Dague, PLLC | Raymond J. Dague
    You can file a joint husband and wife bankruptcy so long as you are still married when you file. The fact that you are getting a divorce does not affect anything, so long as the divorce decree is not signed before you file the bankruptcy petition.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson
    Law Office of Aaron Nielson | Aaron Nielson
    Yes you can file for bankruptcy separately but it may not be the best option. Some states have community property laws that could impact your case. There can also be an issue about what the debt was used for. As always, it is probably best to speak with an attorney about the specifics of your case. If you are both considering filing for bankruptcy then it would probably be less expensive to do a joint filing. The filing fee for a single person or a couple filing jointly is the same and many attorneys don't charge extra for the 2nd spouse.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen
    The Law Offices of Robert L. Driessen | Robert L. Driessen
    Yes you can file a separate bankruptcy petition. I would advise that prior to filing bankruptcy you sit down with a bankruptcy attorney.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Greifendorff Law Offices, PC
    Greifendorff Law Offices, PC | Christine Wilton
    If you are legally married still, then you can file a joint petition; or as an individual. However, all your spouse's assets and debts will come into the case as you are still legally married. If you are legally divorced, then you must file separately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law
    Judith A. Runyon, Esq. Attorney at Law | Judith A. Runyon
    Yes, you can.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Henry, DeGraaff & McCormick, P.S. | Jacob DeGraaff
    As long as you are still married, it doesn't matter when the debt was incurred - you can (and maybe should) file bankruptcy jointly. It will certainly make the divorce easier if you file a joint bankruptcy first.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 1/18/2013
    Stuart Jon Bierman  Attorney at Law
    Stuart Jon Bierman Attorney at Law | Stuart Jon Bierman
    I am pretty sure that a married but separated couple can still file jointly as long as the marriage has not been terminated via a final divorce. There is a place in the bankruptcy petition to indicate if the debtors live together or maintain separate households.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    As long as you are married you can file a joint petition.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    You can file together as long as you are legally married and prior to the decree or order for dissolution/divorce. You can also file separately if you wish.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/14/2011
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