Typically, your spouse will not have to file bankruptcy with you. Whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a person residing in the state of North Carolina for at least 91 days may file on their own or with their spouse jointly. For our firm, the attorney’s fee and the court filing fee is the same to file as a couple as it is to file on your own. The only difference in fees would be the secondary online counseling course mandated by the court: the Financial Management course. If you are to file on your own, the fee is $8 versus filing with a spouse, the fee is $16.
Once you have your consultation appointment with a bankruptcy attorney, you will have a better idea if it is best to file on your own or jointly with your spouse. This is usually determined by the amount of debt in each of your names, whose name the title and mortgage of a home may be in, amongst a number of other factors your attorney will review with you.
If it is decided that you should file individually, you would include all of your secured and unsecured debt for yourself and your spouse’s medical debt. In the state of North Carolina, you could be liable for your spouse’s medical bills through an area of the law called the “Necessities Doctrine”. This means that a creditor that your spouse owes for medical treatment may still come after you to collect that money.
If you file individually, both the husband and wife’s income are factored into the Means Test which determines whether you are eligible to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The Means Test is based upon total gross household Income for the six months prior to filing your bankruptcy petition.
Again, the bankruptcy code allows for only once spouse to file for bankruptcy. However, at times, it may be wise for both spouses to file to ensure that your assets are completely protected and to make sure that as much debt is wiped out so you can create your fresh financial start for your family.