It is common for married individuals to file bankruptcy without including their spouse in the petition.
An individual bankruptcy will not affect your spouse’s credit. Your credit profile is attached to your social security number. As such, you have a separate credit profile from your spouse. This will always be true no matter how you file your taxes or whether you have joint debts. We have filed countless bankruptcy petitions for married individuals. Their non-filing spouse’s credit is never affected.
If you have joint debts, your spouse will remain liable for those debts. Your bankruptcy will have no impact on your spouse’s credit or liability to creditors. When you file bankruptcy, the debt is not discharged. Your responsibility to pay the debt is discharged.
When it comes to joint debts, you should ensure the debt is properly reported on your spouse’s credit. In some rare cases, a creditor will mistakenly show the debt as discharged on the non-filing spouse’s credit. This is especially true of car loans and mortgages. This will have a negative impact the credit score. However, this mistake is easy to fix with a phone call to the creditor.
Your spouse’s personal information (Name, SSN, DOB, etc) will not appear on your bankruptcy petition. However, if your spouse is employed and resides in the same household, you must report your spouse’s income to the court for eligibility purposes. The means test determines your eligibility for a chapter 7 bankruptcy and is based on the household income. This sometimes precludes married individuals from qualifying. A bankruptcy attorney can determine the impact your spouse’s income has on your eligibility.