If you live in Florida and have become unemployed, had a medical emergency, or experienced other unexpected events, you may be struggling financially. Over time, bankruptcy can start looking like the best option. It can help you get some breathing room when the bills continue to pile up, and there is less money to pay them. At Lewis Roberts, PA, I often help clients determine if filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 can help them get their lives back on track.
For single individuals, deciding to file for bankruptcy may be easier than if they are married. It is not unusual for one spouse to carry more debt than the other. While married couples typically file jointly, it doesn’t have to work that way. A married person can petition individually. Factors to consider before making the decision include:
- How much property you own
- If you have joint debts
- Whether you wish to file Chapter 7 or 13
On the upside, your bankruptcy typically does not affect your spouse’s credit, and any property or assets belonging entirely to your spouse are not at risk. However, if there are jointly owned assets and debts, the process can become more complicated.
As Florida is a Common Law State, any property owned entirely by him, or her is not affected. If you have joint assets considered part of a Chapter 7 estate, it may be sold off by the bankruptcy trustee if you cannot exempt or divide it. Your spouse will receive the value of his or her portion while the non-exempt proceeds go toward your debt.
If you have joint credit cards, your individual liability may be discharged, but your partner’s responsibility for repayment remains. A Chapter 13 Codebtor Stay can protect your spouse from creditors coming after them for the joint debt. However, if you do not pay off this debt in the repayment plan, the court can lift the stay.
Filing individual bankruptcy can help you wipe out debt, without affecting your partner’s credit. If both of you intend to file, you may also be able to protect more of your property with two individual bankruptcies. This approach is often prohibitively expensive but may meet your needs.
Contact me or call 407-749-0080 to schedule an appointment and to learn more about the differences between petitioning for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. My Palm Springs Dr office is easily accessible from I-4, North St, and E. Altamonte Dr.