You might think of bankruptcy as a solo endeavor, but that is not always the case. If both you and your spouse are dealing with severe financial troubles, you could declare together with one filing.
While filing a joint bankruptcy in Jacksonville can be helpful, it is not always the best course of action. So, it is always a good idea to hire legal counsel before embarking on this process. A dedicated bankruptcy lawyer could examine your case and help you preserve your future financial prospects.
Advantages of Filing Jointly in Jacksonville
On a basic level, filing for joint bankruptcy with your spouse is cheaper than filing separately. In most cases, the cost of adding a spouse to an individual’s bankruptcy filing is limited to the cost of ordering his or her credit report.
Additionally, if two spouses are both liable for a particular debt, a joint bankruptcy filing could protect both of them from creditors. If only one spouse files, creditors will simply adjust their collection efforts to focus on the non-bankrupt, co-debtor spouse. If the couple files a joint bankruptcy, such collection activity can’t occur.
Filing a joint bankruptcy also increases the amount of property that is eligible for exemptions. Specifically, under Florida law, couples can double motor vehicle and personal property exemptions. Individuals filing bankruptcy can only exempt $1,000 of equity in a motor vehicle and $1,000 of personal property, but a married couple filing jointly can exempt up to $2,000 each. If the couple does not own their home, they can also each claim a $4,000 wildcard exemption. Florida law does not double every exemption for couples filing a joint bankruptcy, so be sure to check with an attorney before deciding to file jointly.
Should Couples Ever File for Bankruptcy Individually?
Two people can only file a joint bankruptcy if they are legally married, and they must make their election to file jointly in their initial petition.
However, just because a married couple can file jointly does not mean they always should, especially if one spouse is in a significantly worse financial position than the other. If one person has a lot of credit card debt and other loan obligations but their spouse is in a better financial position, filing for bankruptcy together could seriously harm the spouse’s credit while offering the other no additional benefit. If you are thinking of filing a joint bankruptcy, talk to a lawyer to determine if this is the right decision for you.
Talk to an Attorney about Filing a Joint Bankruptcy in Jacksonville
Choosing to file for bankruptcy is a serious decision that comes with a lot of long-term consequences. If you or your spouse are considering filing a joint bankruptcy in Jacksonville, schedule an appointment to discuss your situation. Our firm is prepared to answer any questions you might have and help you determine the best course of action.