Lofaro & Headley, LLC


Will declaring bankruptcy affect your spouse?

On Behalf of | May 16, 2024 | Bankruptcy

If you are considering declaring bankruptcy, a reasonable concern is how it will impact your other half. You want the decision to have minimal repercussions on your loved one’s future.

The effect on your spouse depends on various factors, including state laws, the types of debts and whether your spouse is a cosigner on any agreements.

Joint versus individual debt

The primary factor determining whether a bankruptcy will affect your partner is whose name is on the debt. If the debt is individual, meaning only you signed for it, then only you will be responsible for paying it back. However, if the debts are jointly held, meaning you each have signed for them or incurred them together, you are both responsible for the debt.

State laws and property

State laws play a distinct role in determining the impact of bankruptcy on your spouse. In common law states, only property that a spouse owns individually and the portion of any jointly owned property is considered in bankruptcy. In community property states such as New York and New Jersey, all property acquired during the marriage can be part of the bankruptcy estate. If this is the case for you, declaring bankruptcy could affect all marital property.

Impact on credit scores

Declaring bankruptcy does not directly harm your spouse’s credit score. However, there can be indirect fallout. If you have joint accounts, they could be closed or frozen, potentially hurting both credit scores. Additionally, your spouse might need to take on more credit or debt to manage finances.

Depending on the circumstances, declaring bankruptcy can change the financial picture for your spouse. Planning and keeping finances separate can provide some protection if bankruptcy becomes necessary.