Can One Spouse File Bankruptcy?

The short answer is “Yes.”  According to U.S. federal bankruptcy rules, one spouse may act as a soul petitioner when filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The long answer is slightly more involved.  Whether it is advisable to file bankruptcy without your spouse depends entirely on your personal circumstances and thoroughly weighing whether Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more beneficial for you.  In a nutshell, if your debt is in your name only and your spouse has not co-signed contracts, loans, credit or mortgages you are named in, then the debt is yours alone and bankruptcy may have little impact on your partner.

Obtaining the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney will be valuable in this regard.  A bankruptcy lawyer knows the benefits and limitations of Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy and can explain the bankruptcy rules in detail.  This is essential for making an informed decision that allows you to keep as much of your property and assets as possible in the event you bankrupt.

“How will bankruptcy affect my partner?”

Shared credit cards, mortgages and car loans are examples of debts that both spouses are equally liable for.  When your debts are shared, the effects of bankruptcy on your partner can be drastically different depending on the filing spouse’s decision to petition under Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13.

According to U.S. personal bankruptcy rules, cases in which one spouse petitions for Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge from shared debts, the non-filing spouse will assume total responsibility for repaying the creditors in full.  Also worth noting is that in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases where the only one spouse is filing bankrupt, the non-filing spouse will not have the benefits associated with bankruptcy protection, such as automatic stays and bankruptcy discharge from debt.

Depending on the various federal or state bankruptcy exemptions for which you may qualify, it may be more beneficial overall for your spouse to file for bankruptcy discharge with you.  Often married couples may double the allowed exemption values, thereby protecting more assets and personal property than would otherwise be possible if one spouse filed alone.

It is important to note that even if your spouse chooses to not file bankruptcy their income will still be attributed to you.  In the event that your spouse’s income is sufficient, you may be found ineligible for Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy.  If this happens you may choose to withdraw your bankruptcy petition entirely or file for a Chapter 13 reorganization and repayment plan.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules, however, allow co-debtors – including non-filing spouses – to be protected by a co-debtor stay.  The stay prevents creditors from focusing all of their collection efforts on the co-debtor while the bankruptcy petitioner works with a Trustee to reorganize the debts and negotiate a repayment plan.

Whether you are wrestling with Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy benefits and drawbacks, the U.S. Bankruptcy Code allows for a non-filing spouse in a “community property state” to share the benefits of their spouse’s bankruptcy discharge, as a matter of law.  Individuals and couples considering petitioning for bankruptcy discharge or protection should seek the counsel of a bankruptcy lawyer to determine if your state is a community property state.

In terms of how one spouse going bankrupt will affect the credit of the non-filing spouse, if you share joint debts, you can expect the bankruptcy to be noted in some way on the credit record of the non-filing spouse.  If your debts are separate, however, one bankruptcy should not be reflected in non-filing spouse’s credit reports.   Within 6 months of filing bankrupt, have your spouse check their credit rating.

bankruptcy attorney can explain all of the Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy rules, the consequences and benefits of going bankrupt as an individual and as a couple, and how to achieve a bankruptcy discharge from debts.  Contact a bankruptcy lawyer in your area for professional advice on the effects of filing bankruptcy without your spouse.

Privacy Policy is committed to safeguarding the privacy of everyone who uses this website. Accordingly, we have developed this privacy policy to explain to you what information we collect about you, the steps we take to keep this information private and secure, and what we do with this information. This privacy statement is part of our Terms and Conditions. By visiting this website, you agree to be bound by the terms of this policy. If you do not agree with the terms of this policy, please do not use this website.

What types of information about you do we collect through this website?

We collect personal information about you (and certain of your family members) in three principal ways: (1) information you provide us through this website; (2) information that is automatically generated when you use our website; and (3) information we obtain from third parties.

With respect to information you provide us on this website, we collect the following information from you:

  • Your name, residence and email addresses, and telephone numbers
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We also collect certain information about you automatically when you visit our website. Through our use of “cookies” (cookies are electronic identifiers that are transferred automatically to your computer through your browser and they allow our computers to save certain information you provide us and store information about you so we can recognize you when you visit our website in the future). Other types of information we collect automatically include your Internet Protocol (IP) address (which allows us to understand how you use our site and to enable us to make changes to our site in order to improve your user experience); information regarding your computer and your connection to our site (such as your browser type, operating system, and platform); and your user history to, through, and away from our site, including your session information, page loading times, page errors and broken links, the length of your visits to specific pages within our site, and other information related to your experience on our site.

From time to time, we collect information about you from third parties, such as updated contact information, and search term and search result information from your web searches.

How do you use my personal information?

All of the information we obtain about you is stored securely on our website, and we use it only to evaluate your situation and provide legal services to you, to allow to distribute the information to unaffiliated sponsoring lawyers or law firms to evaluate your case and provide legal services to you, and to provide ongoing communications to you in furtherance of these legal services. We do not sell or share your personal information with anyone other than our own internal personnel, (who administer the attorney network), and the unaffiliated sponsoring lawyers and law firms, and certain authorized third parties (such as expert witnesses) who may be retained to assist in your bankruptcy case. As part of this process, those third parties agree to keep your information confidential and agree not to share it with any third party without your express permission.

We only disclose any personally identifiable information about individual users in accordance with this Privacy Policy and our Terms and Conditions, or when we have a good-faith belief that such action is necessary to comply with applicable laws, valid legal process, a court order, a current judicial proceeding, or to protect our rights or property.

We disclose personally identifiable individual information and the other information you provide us to, who discloses it to unaffiliated sponsoring lawyers or law firms in order for them to contact you and to determine whether to handle your case. As part of this process, and those lawyers or law firm agrees to keep your information confidential and agree not to share it with any third party without your express permission. and may also provide aggregate statistical information (such as the city or state you live in) to third parties to describe our services to prospective partners, advertisers, and other third parties, and for other lawful purposes. We will not, however, disclose any personally identifiable information about to these parties.
How do you protect my personal information?

Please understand that whenever you voluntarily disclose personal information online (such as through an email message or through filling out an online form), this information cannot be made 100 percent secure and, in some cases, that information can be intercepted, collected and used by others. However, we work hard to protect your information at all times, and we protect you information in several ways. Your information is stored on a secure server that only, and its authorized personnel can access through a password. Additionally, we encrypt your information to prevent third parties without authorization from intercepting your information when it is in transit to us.

Questions about our Privacy Policy?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this policy, you should contact us at:

Attn: Andrew Partridge
Andrew W. Partridge
2139 Sheffield Ave, #3
Chicago, IL 60614
You can also review and update the personal information we have about you in order to ensure its accuracy. To do so, please contact us at the above address.

Updates to Privacy Statement

From time to time, we may decide to change the provisions of this privacy policy, and we reserve the right to do so, without notice. However, we will attempt to inform you of any changes to this policy, whether by email alerts, changes to our website and/or through personal communications with you.


This website contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every website that collects personally identifiable information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this website.


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Because publisher sites and laws across countries vary, we’re unable to suggest specific privacy policy language. However, you may wish to review resources such as the Network Advertising Initiative for guidance on drafting a privacy policy.

Bankruptcy Laws in Your State

Bankruptcy Laws are Federal so the same principals are applied nationwide, but each State has its own set of Bankruptcy Laws that determine the medium income for the state, allowable living expenses, and exemptions for personal and real property. Click on the State you live in from the list below to find out everything you need to know about the bankruptcy laws in your state.

2006 Fiscal Year Bankruptcy Statistics Released recently released bankruptcy filing statistics for the 2006 fiscal year. (October 1, 2005 – September 30, 2006) The total number of bankruptcy filings for the 2006 fiscal year (1,112,542) was the lowest amount since 1996. Chapter 7 bankruptcies accounted for 75 percent of all petitions filed in the 2006 fiscal year.

The numbers for this time period are deceptive, because over 50% of all bankruptcies filed during this period were filed in the first 16 days of the fiscal period. This is a result of a rush to file cases before the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BACPA) that went into effect October 17th, 2005.

The drop-off in filings after the law change was largely expected by the bankruptcy legal community, but many bankruptcy attorneys did not expect the decrease in filings to last for so long. As the public becomes more educated about the new bankruptcy laws, I expect bankruptcy filings to gradually increase, especially with the large amount of homes currently in foreclosure nationwide. Chapter 13 bankruptcies will become increasingly popular as more homeowners need to seek bankruptcy protection to stop a foreclosure on their home.

When Creditors Sue You

I truly enjoyed my time as a bankruptcy paralegal; and one of the reasons is that I was able to tell clients that by the time their bankruptcy was over they would be starting a new life not only financially, but emotionally as well. When debt starts to pile up it typically leads to other issues like creditor phone calls, letters, and sometimes civil lawsuits. These civil lawsuits originate when a creditor (like a credit card company) decides to summon you to court in order to ask the judge for a judgement against you that would ultimately require you to pay the debt. So how does filing bankruptcy work when creditors sue you? Here’s an outline of what a typical timeline would look like if your creditor sues you in the midst of your bankruptcy:

1. You receive a summons

In most cases lawsuits start with a summons delivered to the defendant stating that the date and time they are to appear in court. A summons will also list who is suing your and for what reason.

2. You contact your attorney

If you have already hired a bankruptcy lawyer then you should contact them immediately and let them that you have received the summons. Be sure to tell them who the summons is from because their response will differ depending on if it is a secured or unsecured creditor.

3. You appear in court

Unless your bankruptcy case is filed before the court date listed on the summons you should make plans to appear. Because this is a civil lawsuit and separate from your personal bankruptcy, your attorney may or may not appear with you, but that is nothing to worry about. If you miss this court appearance it is typical for the judge to award a judgement to the creditor who is suing you.

4. Your request more time

In most cases you can ask the judge for a continuance when you appear at the hearing. It is typical but not guaranteed for you to be granted a single continuance. A continuance will give you and your bankruptcy attorney more time to get your case filed and avoid the next hearing altogether.

5. You finalize your bankruptcy

Whether or not a judgement is put against you after the hearing you and your attorney will want to file your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy as soon as possible to avoid possible garnishments or other civil lawsuits. Keeping your financial paperwork organized and keeping in contact with your bankruptcy lawyer is key to a speedy filing.

It is extremely common for debtors to be sued by their creditors during the preliminary bankruptcy process. Creditors have a right to take you to court for debt and they take that right seriously. Just remember that by choosing to file bankruptcy you are already one step ahead of your creditors and the law is on your side. And again, by the time your bankruptcy is over you will be debt free and the creditor stress will be over.

Bankruptcy Alternatives: Finding the right Debt Consolidation Company

Bankruptcy is intended for individuals who honestly cannot afford to repay their debts. In comparison, debt consolidation is intended for individuals who have the necessary disposable income to at repay at least a portion of their debt. Bankruptcy offers many advantages and is often the fastest and cheapest way to eliminate a large amount of debt, but bankruptcy alternatives like debt consolidation should always be considered before making the decision to file bankruptcy.

Unfortunately, the debt consolidation industry contains some unethical companies that don’t have your best interest at heart and are driven by a desire to make money off you. Since you are dealing with sensitive financial information, it is very important to find a reputable debt consolidation company that can put together a plan to get you out of debt. A referral from a friend or family member is a great way to make sure you are dealing with an ethical debt consolidation firm, but people often don’t like talking about their debt problems and a good referral can be hard.

Searching the internet is another popular alternative to finding a reputable debt consolidation company, but the huge amount of listings makes it very difficult to identify the reputable companies among them. Debtconsoldiationcare.comhas developed a solution to this problem by allowing their community members to rate the various debt consolidation companies based on their personal experiences. Individuals can request a free debt evaluation from a company that the other community members rated highly. A debt counselor from one of the highly-rated company then calls you to discus your debt issues and offer possible solutions. also has a active community forum with topics covering a wide variety of debt and credit management solutions including, Bankruptcy, Credit Repair, Identity Theft, and Debt Consolidation and Settlement.

FreshStartForms Debt Reduction Program

Edward C. Sanchez, Debt Reduction Specialist, has developed a debt reduction process to help you break the debt cycle and pay down your debts. The information draws from the knowledge Edward has gained from his extensive experience interacting with individuals considering bankruptcy.

The Debt Reduction program uses the “B.A.M” Process, a unique 3 step process that fundamentally change the way you consume on a daily basis. The steps are 1) Budget, 2) Audit, 3)Monitor.

After completing the B.A.M process you will have established a realistic picture of your complete financial situation. It is critical to have this information to determine if bankruptcy alternatives are available to you.

Why Can’t I Get Rid of This Debt?

It’s no secret that people have a lot of trouble paying down their credit cards. Take me for example. I got a credit card in my early twenties (I won’t say which one, but it starts with an ‘A’, and ends with a ‘merican Express’.) That zero percent interest rate sounded great, and for the first few months everything was just fine. I made my payments on time, and was on my way to establishing good credit. Then, I somehow missed a payment. Perhaps my finances were tight that month, or I just misplaced the bill. The reason didn’t matter to my credit card company though. They started charging me thirty (that’s 30) percent interest and soon, what had been a measly $500.00 debt was over $3600.00.

Now, I’ll accept the blame for missing the payment, and when I went back and checked the contract, sure enough, miss a payment and get the interest rate jacked up. As a young man who was still trying to find his way in life, I tried to make the minimum payments, but I soon found that by making those minimum payments I would never actually pay down the debt to zero, or at least I wouldn’t before I was fifty years old.

About this time I started practicing as a bankruptcy attorney, and I discovered something. I was not the only one in this sort of situation. All my clients were too! All across the spectrum, from police officers to construction workers to office managers to salespeople, everyone was being crushed by the interest rates on their credit cards. I was one of the lucky ones with only one card to worry about, but imagine that same problem with three, four or five credit cards, all with thirty percent interest! It’s outrageous! And then, there were the people who thought at the very least they could reduce the number of credit cards and make their debt more manageable. They paid off one card with another, and their installments were still too high to make more than the minimum monthly payment.

The madness has to end sometime though. People are smart, and we will all eventually realize when we’re in over our heads. That’s when it’s time to seek help. And please, whatever you do, don’t seek help from a ‘Debt Consolidation Agency.’ First of all, there is nothing anywhere that says that all your creditors have to go along with the repayment plan. They can opt out, and still be waiting for you in the end, with all the interest that you’ve accrued. Second, Debt Consolidation Agencies can take up to Forty percent of what you pay them every month as service and administrative fees. That means that for every $100.00 you pay them, only $60 is actually going to pay back your debt. Not a good deal at all.

So, talk to a professional. If your debt is more than you can manage, perhaps it’s time to give yourself a fresh start, or at least work out a repayment plan with the full power of the law behind it. Contact an specialized attorney and find out if bankruptcy is right for you.

Until then, keep your eyes on the prize.

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