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How Bankruptcy Affects Your Spouse

Kinnaird Law Firm Oct. 23, 2023

Husband Consoling Frustrated Wife in kitchen looking at financial documentAre you considering filing for bankruptcy, but feeling unsure about how it could affect your spouse? It's a difficult situation to navigate — after all, bankruptcy has wide-ranging impacts on both individuals and couples, making it important to understand its implications before jumping in. In this blog post, we'll take an in-depth look at how bankruptcy affects spouses so that you can make the right decision for you and your family. It can be a complicated subject, but our goal is to shed light on the matter, providing you with a clear understanding and reassurance. 

At Kinnaird Law Firm, we aim to be the go-to legal partner for people throughout Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you're ready to speak with one of our bankruptcy attorneys, give us a call today. We'll be happy to schedule a consultation and clarify your concerns.  

Separate Property vs. Marital Property in Colorado

First and foremost, we need to cover the difference between separate property and marital property in Colorado. Separate property refers to assets and debts acquired before marriage or during marriage by gift or inheritance. On the other hand, marital property refers to most assets and debts gained during the marriage.  

Interestingly, any increase in the value of separate property during the marriage is considered marital property, while the original property remains separate. In a bankruptcy case, correctly identifying and distinguishing between separate and marital property can have significant implications. 

How Bankruptcy Affects Spouses

Bankruptcy can be a daunting process, even when you're going through it as a duo. It's important to understand that filing for bankruptcy affects both spouses, even if only one of you is initiating the filing.  

Depending on which type of bankruptcy you file for, your assets and debts will be assessed and divided up accordingly. This can potentially lead to the seizure of shared property, damage to credit scores, and complications with joint bank accounts and loans.  

To protect both you and your partner’s best interests, it's crucial to thoroughly research the legal processes and implications of bankruptcy when it comes to couples, and to speak with a professional before making any major decisions. 

Different Types of Joint Bankruptcies Available

Filing for bankruptcy is never an easy decision to make, but for some individuals and couples, it may be the only viable solution to get out from under a mountain of debt. Fortunately, there are several types of joint bankruptcy available, each with its own set of rules and requirements.  

For example, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can quickly eliminate unsecured debts like credit card balances and medical bills, but it will require you to give up some of your assets. On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep more of your property while paying back your debts with a manageable payment plan. It's important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine which avenue of joint bankruptcy is right for your unique financial circumstances. 

Filing Bankruptcy as an Individual: Pros and Cons

When dealing with substantial debts, filing for bankruptcy as an individual might seem like a viable option, particularly if you want to safeguard your spouse's credit. However, this decision comes with its own set of considerations.  

Filing for bankruptcy is a big decision that nobody takes lightly. When it comes to doing it as an individual, there are both pros and cons to consider.  

As far as pros, there are the classic benefits of filing for bankruptcy:  

  • It can help you gain a fresh start and relieve the burden of debt that has been weighing you down. 

  • It can provide protection from creditors by preventing them from making harassing phone calls or taking legal action against you. 

However, on the other hand, it can have long-term effects on your credit score and make it difficult to obtain loans or credit in the future. While these may feel like individual drawbacks, they can still impact your spouse. Not being able to qualify for loans and having to rebuild credit could potentially set both you and your partner back on some key life goals. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine if it’s the right choice for you. 

Filing Bankruptcy as a Couple: Pros and Cons

Filing for bankruptcy can be a tough decision for any individual, but when you're married, the decision is even more complex.  

One pro of joint filing is that it can give you the advantage of combining your income, which could make you eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, allowing you to keep your assets and reorganize your debts via a repayment plan. It can also help streamline the process and potentially expedite the discharge of debts.  

However, both of your credit scores will be impacted in a joint filing and, if you file for Chapter 7, some of your spouse's possessions may be liquidated. Depending on which chapter you'd prefer, jointly filing could cause other difficulties down the road. Because your spouse's income will be factored into the bankruptcy calculation, which may impact your family's eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or the repayment plan in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  

It's important to weigh the pros and cons and determine if a joint filing is the right option for you and your partner. No matter your situation, it'll be helpful to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to help you navigate the process from start to finish. 

Factors to Consider

When determining whether to file for bankruptcy and how it may affect your spouse, several factors should be taken into account. These include:  

  • the nature of your debts,  

  • the ownership of assets,  

  • the impact on your spouse's credit, and  

  • the eligibility requirements for different bankruptcy chapters.  

It's important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who can assess your specific circumstances and provide guidance tailored to your situation. 

Strategies for Rebuilding Your Financial Future After Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can be a tough pill to swallow, both emotionally and financially. But the good news is that there are strategies you can adopt to rebuild your financial future.  

It starts with identifying what caused your bankruptcy in the first place. Was it excessive debt or unexpected expenses? Once you know the root cause, you can start devising a plan to avoid repeating those mistakes.  

You'll also want to focus on rebuilding your credit score, which can take time but is essential for obtaining loans and credit cards in the future. And lastly, it's important to remain patient and disciplined as you work your way back to financial stability. With hard work and a bit of luck, you can turn your financial situation around and build a sustainable future. 

Let's Work Together Toward a Brighter Financial Future

At Kinnaird Law Firm, we understand that dealing with bankruptcy is challenging. We're here to help you navigate this difficult journey with empathy and efficiency. Remember, you're not alone in this, and there are always solutions available. Reach out to us for a consultation to discuss your specific situation and explore your options. From our law firm in Colorado Springs, we serve individuals and families throughout Douglas County and El Paso County.