Should I File for Bankruptcy Before I Get Married?

Marriage is a legal relationship that changes everything, including your financial situation. When you file for bankruptcy the court requires you to disclose all of your income. All of your income means all of your household income. So if you file for bankruptcy after you are married, even though your new spouse has nothing to do with your separate debts, his or her income must be included in your bankruptcy. For example in a chapter 7 a person must qualify under a "means test". Both spouses income must be included and could have an adverse effect on your qualification or ability to qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under a chapter 13 your new spouse's income could cause an increase in your household income that would make your plan payments much higher. Once again, this can occur even though your new spouse has absolutely nothing to do with your separate debts that you incurred prior to your marriage.

Also, when you file for bankruptcy you must disclose to the court all of the property that you own. This property becomes your "bankruptcy estate" while you are in bankruptcy. The court may require you to disclose a new spouse's property even if you are just married for a short time. Only your property and any community property becomes part of your bankruptcy estate. However, the court requires that you disclose all potential community property including your new spouse's cars, homes etc. to determine if his or her separate property (property acquired prior to marriage) is community property. New spouses seldom like this even though their separate property will eventually be found not be part of your bankruptcy estate.

As I have indicated it would be best to file for bankruptcy prior to marriage. This does not mean that you cannot file for bankruptcy after you are married. As I have stated in previous discussions a married person can file for bankruptcy separately without including the other spouse in the bankruptcy filing. It just tends to make the process more difficult. These are issues that my bankruptcy

For all of you out there who are anticipating marriage and potentially filing for bankruptcy the best thing you can do to see that you and your new spouse begin your new legal relationship properly is to discuss these issues with a bankruptcy attorney. He or she can lay out the best course of action.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.