Individual Bankruptcy Vs. Joint Bankruptcy: Options for Married Couples in Ohio

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You and your spouse may be looking at your finances and your growing debts. While you are ready to begin the process of filing for bankruptcy, there are options for married couples in Ohio to file for individual or joint bankruptcy. But what is your best option? The Jones Law Firm can help guide you through the process.

Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as “straight” bankruptcy, is the liquidation of assets. To qualify for Chapter 7, you must pass the “means” test which looks at your yearly income, disposable income and unsecured debts, and the circumstances of your case.

If you do not pass the means test for Chapter 7, you may still qualify for Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows an individual to propose a plan to repay creditors over three to five years and in most cases, will allow you to pay your unsecured creditors only a fraction of what is owed.

For most Ohio couples, Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be your most likely option. But if you and your spouse have too large of an income, you may have no choice but to file Chapter 13.

Once you determine which form of bankruptcy you wish to file for, determine if you would be filing individually or as a couple.

Individual Versus Joint Bankruptcy Filing

There are several factors you need to consider in your joint or individual filing.

Debt: Because Ohio is an “equitable distribution” state, by filing jointly for bankruptcy, you and your spouse’s jointly-held marital debts and your individual, separate debts will be eliminated. But, if you decide to file as an individual, your share of joint debts and your separate debts will be eliminated but your spouse will still be responsible for his or her share of the debts and his or her individual debts.

Exemptions: Under federal and Ohio laws, if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a list of exempt items you do not have to liquidate under the code. Items may include your car, home, pensions, public benefits, etc. By filing jointly, you get double the exemptions. But, if one person has a larger amount of non-exempt separate property, it may be in your best interest to file separately as the non-filing spouses’ separate property won’t be included in the bankruptcy filing.

Cost: Fees for filing joint or individually are the same, so by filing jointly, you may save yourself money by not having to come back to an attorney again to file. Not only is it a financial saving, but it also saves you time and allows you to get started on your clean-slate financial future faster.

If you and your spouse live in Columbus OH, Reynoldsburg OH, Pickerington OH, Blacklick OH, Pataskala OH, Newark OH, Lancaster OH, Whitehall OH, and Canal Winchester OH, New Albany OH, Westerville OH, or anywhere in the Central Ohio area and are seeking legal advice on filing for bankruptcy, you need to call the Jones Law Firm today.

Free Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Not only is debt a stressor in your everyday life, but it can also be stressful for your marriage. If you and your spouse are experiencing financial distress or the burden of debts you cannot pay, contact The Jones Law Firm for a free consultation about how we can help and whether Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you. With offices in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, The Jones Law Firm works with clients in and around Columbus and throughout central Ohio.