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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Bankruptcy and Marriage: Issues to Consider

In Florida, married couples may either file for bankruptcy jointly or separately. When a couple files for joint bankruptcy, the debts and property of both spouses are combined. Below are some issues to consider regarding bankruptcy and marriage. 

  • Type of debt – When determining whether to file for bankruptcy separately or jointly, the type of debt held may be the most important factor to consider. The joint bankruptcy process allows married couples to eliminate all of their dischargeable debts. However, when only one of the spouses files for bankruptcy, the other spouse remains liable for any joint debts plus his or her personal debts. Therefore, a couple that has a significant amount of joint debt may want to consider filing for joint bankruptcy. On the other hand, couples with little joint debt should consider filing separately. Filing separately leaves the spouse who didn’t file for bankruptcy the option of doing so in the future if necessary. 

  • Property owned – Couples should carefully consider the property that they own when determining whether to file for bankruptcy separately or jointly. The reason for this is that when a couple files for joint bankruptcy, the assets of both spouses are included in the proceedings. Therefore, if one spouse happens to own a large amount of nonexempt separate property, then a separate filing may be the best course of action for the purpose of asset protection. 

  • Costs – There are many costs associated with bankruptcy, including attorney fees and court costs. Married couples who file for joint bankruptcy are usually able to spend less money than they would by filing two separate bankruptcies. The lowered cost of joint bankruptcy is primarily due to the fact that: 1) court filing fees are similar for separate and joint bankruptcies; and 2) attorney fees for a joint bankruptcy are less than the attorney fees for two separate bankruptcies. 
  • Convenience – In order to file for bankruptcy, couples must submit a number of financial documents to the court and bankruptcy trustee. In addition, bankruptcy requires that the trustee and filer meet at least one time. When a married couple files for bankruptcy jointly, the spouses may fulfill these requirements together. Therefore, joint bankruptcy is typically a more convenient and efficient process for married couples than filing separately. 

Florida Bankruptcy Attorneys

At the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A., we know how difficult it can be to navigate the bankruptcy process alone. From credit score worries to foreclosure fears, we are fully aware of the myriad concerns faced by our bankruptcy clients. Therefore, if you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Florida, please contact us to discuss your situation. Our experienced Florida Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys will walk you through the bankruptcy process while ensuring that you understand all of your legal options. Please contact us for a free consultation.

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The Law Office of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A. assists clients in Florida, including North Pinellas County, Palm Harbor, Trinity, West Pasco County, and the surrounding areas.



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