When people find themselves in a relationship with the person they want to spend the rest of their life with and they decide to take the next step into marriage, not much will stop them from tying the knot. Even something such as financial circumstances, which can be considered relatively trivial in the grand scheme of life, will be unlikely to prevent a marriage if a couple is truly determined. This means that many couples enter a marriage with substantial debt, low incomes, or otherwise less-than-stable finances. If you and your spouse are finding it difficult to pay your debts, bankruptcy might be the next step to finding long-term financial improvement. With the help of Behm Law Group Ltd., you and your spouse can file a successful joint bankruptcy case and receive effective debt relief in Mankato, MN.
Individual consumer bankruptcy chapters, including Chapter 7 liquidation and Chapter 13 reorganization type bankruptcies, can also be filed jointly by a married couple. Joint filings allow the combination of both your and your spouse’s debts into one case, requiring only one each of the pre-bankruptcy requirements, including the meeting of creditors, Means Test, credit counseling, and more. In addition to the consolidation of two of each pre-bankruptcy requirements into one, the bankruptcy fees are the same for individuals as for joint-filing spouses. This cuts in half the amount you and your spouse would pay if you each filed for an individual case.
If you choose to file a joint bankruptcy, all your financial information will be combined into a report that essentially represents as a single filer. Your assets (properties) and liabilities (debts) will be combined, and both of your incomes will be taken into consideration. For most joint filers, we recommend considering Chapter 13 more seriously than attempting to file for Chapter 7 for two reasons: eligibility and exemptions.
With a higher income from your combined jobs, accounts, or any other sources, you may not qualify for Chapter 7 because you may not pass the Means Test. The Means Test assesses your income-to-debt ratio. To be eligible for Chapter 7, your income-to-debt ratio must be lower than the state median of a similar household. Additionally, you can only claim the same exemptions of an individual filer. This means you may not be able to protect some of your property from liquidation in Chapter 7 because your debts are higher, your assets are more valuable, but your exemptions are not adjusted accordingly.
Filing for joint Chapter 13, however, means you save money in bankruptcy fees and attorney costs, save time on pre-bankruptcy requirements, have an easier time meeting repayment plan requirements with both of your incomes, and can pay off your plan more quickly than you would as two individuals.