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Can Just One Spouse File Bankruptcy?

Question: I need to know if just one spouse can file for bankruptcy. We live in Cumming, Georgia.

When I married my wife it was a second marriage for both of us. Since we have been married we have kept our finances separate. We each have our own savings account and checking account and we each have our own investments in stocks and bonds. We have one joint account to pay household bills and the mortgage. We have been married for 8 years.

Before we got married my wife made some bad investments in a clothing business in Alpharetta, a jewelry store in Sandy Springs and a used car dealership in Cumming. So all her debt was incurred before we were even married.

She thought her ex-husband knew how to manage them but he didn't. He spent most of his time drinking and gambling at Indian casinos. The ex-husband ran up a lot of debt on her credit cards and she signed for personal and business loans for him. He lost all the money. She even used her inheritance to fund the businesses and now that has been totally spent.

I don't need to file bankruptcy. Can my wife be the only person in our family who files bankruptcy? Can just the wife file bankruptcy, or do I have to do it as well?

Answer: Under the bankruptcy code, one spouse can file for bankruptcy; both spouses do not have to file jointly. In our practice we have seen many married couples where just one spouse files for bankruptcy and the other one does not.

It's certainly helpful that you have kept your finances separate and you can show distinct savings and checking accounts. And, of course, the debt is in her name alone, not in yours.

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