Of all the questions you and your spouse might ask prior to filing, this is more than likely not one of them. Like many Florida residents, you might not even be aware that you and your spouse are not required to file jointly. Where it is true that there are numerous advantages to filing with your spouse, you might receive more benefit from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy by filing individually.
Filing together saves money on filing fees, but it also provides certain protections to your spouse as well. Filing individually when you have joint debts opens up your spouse to owe the entire amount of the debt. If you took out the debt with your spouse, creditors do not care that you no longer owe the debt. They will expect payment from your spouse if he or she did not file bankruptcy as well.
Among the considerations regarding filing jointly or individually is the means test. Your combined income might disqualify you for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under these circumstances, it might make more sense to file individually. However, the court still considers your spouse’s income and debts regardless. When you sit down with a Florida bankruptcy attorney to discuss filing, it would be beneficial to bring all financial information for both of you.
The more information you provide to your attorney, the better he or she can advise you. Without a complete picture, any recommendations will not be complete, which could jeopardize your chances of getting the most out of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Ultimately, the decision whether to file jointly or individually is up to you and your spouse, but you make better choices when you fully understand the pros and cons of each option.