Bankruptcy is the first step to debt relief and a stronger, stabler financial future. While a married couple can file jointly so all their debts are included, many spouses choose to file individually. But before filing individually, you should understand how the bankruptcy might impact your spouse. 

Jointly Held Debts

When spouses share debts and one files for bankruptcy, only that spouse's obligation to pay will be discharged. The non-filing spouse won't receive any debt relief, and they'll be responsible for the full balance moving forward. As long as the non-filing partner keeps current on the required payments, they should see no reduction in their credit score. However, the partner who does file will have the bankruptcy appear on their credit report for up to 10 years, and their score will initially take a hit.

Individual Debts

Debt Relief

The unsecured balances that the filing spouse carries in their own name will be eligible for debt relief and discharged in bankruptcy. The balances held by the other spouse in their name only will not be affected. They will still need to pay off these debts.


With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, certain assets can be liquidated to offset your debts. For spouses who own property in both of their names, that property could be subject to sale by the bankruptcy trustee. But this is only applicable when the property is worth more than the available exemptions; if it's worth less, the filing shouldn't impact the property. Any property owned solely by the non-filing spouse will not become part of the estate. Assets owned by the filing spouse may be liquidated if they're valued higher than the exemptions the filer claims.


Whether you're looking to file individually or jointly, Greg Dunn, Bankruptcy and Debt Relief Attorney, is here to help. Since 1988, Attorney Dunn has served the Honolulu, HI, area. He offers representation in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy claims, foreclosures, and garnishments and will guide you at every step of the legal process. Start on the path to debt relief by scheduling a free consultation: Call (808) 524-4529 or visit his website today.