Married Couples

Married Couples

A spouse may feel like he or she is responsible for his or her spouse's debts. This is not true.

A person is, of course, responsible for his or her own debts. In addition, that person may be responsible for his or her spouse's debts under certain circumstances. If you and your spouse have co-signed a debt together, this may be a debt that the two of you share. For instance, if you have bought a car together, you may both have signed for the loan.

If you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin or have opted in to community property arrangements in Alaska), you and your spouse are jointly responsible for debts either or both of you incurred during your marriage, even if you did not "co-sign" for them.

You must be legally married to file a joint bankruptcy petition. Although it is not yet settled law, in states in which gay marriage is legal, a married gay couple may also jointly file for bankruptcy.

  • Introduction to Bankruptcy
    Do you need a fresh financial start? Are you being hounded by debt collectors? You are not alone. Almost 1.5 million individuals file personal bankruptcies every year in the U.S. It has been a long-standing element of American law that an individual can file for bankruptcy and obtain a fresh start...
    read more
  • Types of Bankruptcy
    For individuals, there are two basic types of bankruptcies : chapter 7 and chapter 13. An individual may file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, which is sometimes called "fresh start" or a "liquidation" bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an individual may keep certain kinds of property (called "...
    read more
  • Who Can File?
    Generally, anyone can file for bankruptcy. However, not everyone qualifies to file for a particular kind of bankruptcy. If you are an honest person who can't afford to pay your bills, you can qualify for bankruptcy. If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, it may affect your options. For...
    read more
  • The Process
    There are eight common elements in obtaining a bankruptcy discharge (i.e., eliminating or reducing your debts, or planning their repayment), although the details of these may vary depending on your situation. The attorney you find through LegalZoom will help you with the entire process which takes...
    read more
  • Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling
    Before you can file for bankruptcy, you must first consult a nonprofit credit counseling agency approved by the United States Trustee's Office. This consultation may show you if there are alternatives bankruptcy that would work for you.
    read more
  • Bankruptcy Reform
    Congress changed the bankruptcy laws significantly in 2005, making it more difficult for individuals to file for bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy relief remains available to those who qualify. Some important elements to the revised bankruptcy laws are:
    read more