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The Pros & Cons of Filing for Joint Bankruptcy


If you are married, struggling with debt, and are now faced with the prospect of filing for bankruptcy, you will have to decide whether you will file a joint or individual bankruptcy. Before committing to a decision, however, you need to fully understand the pros and cons of both of these options to ensure you do what is best for your specific set of circumstances. It is also recommended that you hire a bankruptcy attorney to avoid making any unnecessary or costly mistakes during the filing process. In the meantime, take a moment to understand the difference between joint and individual bankruptcy.


California is a community property state and, therefore, you and your spouse are equally indebted, with the exception of any debts you had prior to the marriage. Only in equitable distribution states will the level of indebtedness matter, since you will then have to examine how much you both owe. If one owes more than the other, filing a joint bankruptcy would not be beneficial.

Previous Bankruptcies

Regardless if you are living in a community property state, however, filing an individual bankruptcy might be your only option if one spouse has already filed for bankruptcy within the past six to eight years. The bankruptcy system sets a limit on how often a person is allowed to file for bankruptcy, so being able to file individually will give you the ability to still do so, even if your spouse cannot.

Income Limits

As you weigh the pros and cons of filing an individual bankruptcy against the pros and cons of a joint filing, you will also have to consider the Means Test. The Means Test essentially measures a debtor’s financial ability to pay their debt based on the amount of disposable income they have available. If you are looking into filing for a joint bankruptcy, your household’s income will be looked at and, after deducting your allowable expenses, if it is determined that you and your spouse’s combined income will allow you to repay your creditors, you might not be allowed to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Instead, you would have to repay your creditors through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Unfortunately, this is a common issue for many married couples, since their combined income is generally too high to file for a joint bankruptcy. No two situations are alike though, so before you make any decisions, contact a bankruptcy attorney.

Joint Bankruptcy Attorneys in Fresno

Are you considering filing for joint bankruptcy? Seek the skilled assistance of a bankruptcy attorney to guide you through it. At Arnold Law Group, APC, our Fresno bankruptcy team is dedicated to assisting couples make informed decisions regarding their finances. Backed by over 30 years of combined experience, you can rest assured you are in good hands with us.

Call our office today at (559) 900-1263 to schedule your case evaluation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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