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I'm filing bankruptcy. Does my wife have to file?

Question:  I need to know if my wife has to file bankruptcy with me. Can I just file bankruptcy by myself, or does my wife have to file too?

The reason is that all the debt is in my name. It’s a second marriage for both of us and we keep our finances pretty much separated. I learned from my first marriage, which ended in a nasty divorce, that it’s best to keep everything separate; her money is her money and my money is my money.

I have my own checking account and I pay my own credit cards and other bills, and my wife has her own checking account and she pays her credit cards and loans through that. My wife writes her own checks for her student loan payments and her American Express and Visa bills. I pay for my MasterCard bill, alimony, child support (which I don’t want to pay anymore because one of my kids is doing drugs) and some personal loans.

My debt has gotten to be too much. I definitely need to file for bankruptcy to get some relief. I went bankrupt about 12 years ago and it really helped me to get back on track. I got rid of all sorts of debt and it was awesome to get a fresh start and not have to stress over the money I owed to some bankers and collection agencies.

I’m in a similar situation again and my debt is seriously stressing me out (I’ve been drinking a lot, and it’s not healthy). I’m getting harassed by creditors every day and every night. I just to want file and make them stop calling me.

My wife, on the other hand, is a totally different story. Her credit is amazing and she basically has no debt. She got a patent on an invention and she partnered with a Japanese company and she’s making a lot of cash. She said I’m on my own, and that’s fine with me. We’ve only been married three years and I don’t want to mess up our relationship. I’m not asking the lady for any money and she hasn’t offered to help me. I just want to find out if she has to file if I do. I'm writing to a great Forsyth County bankruptcy lawyer to get some help, please. 

P.A. in Cumming, GA

Answer:  Your wife does not have to file bankruptcy along with you. Under the bankruptcy law, there is no legal obligation for both spouses to file. Many times, in fact, just one spouse files. In your case, it makes perfect sense that only you would file, since you are the one with the debt issues.

We have handled many cases where only one spouse files and the other one does not; it's actually very common.

In your question, your state that you no longer wish to pay child support to your former wife because one of your children is “doing drugs.” You should be aware that child support is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. In other words, it cannot be eliminated like credit cards, loans or old bills.

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