Georgia, like other states, allows husbands and wives to determine whether they should file bankruptcy individually or singly. While Georgia does not utilize federal bankruptcy exemptions, the state does allow you to double the exemptions if both spouses file a joint Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.
Single Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing
It is important to keep in mind that even if you decide to file a single bankruptcy petition without your spouse, the court will require you to include your spouse’s income in the calculations for means testing. In addition, if any of the debts you are trying to discharge are joint debts, your spouse could be held liable for the debts even if they are discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When considering whether to file a single or joint petition, your bankruptcy attorney in Marietta can answer any questions you may have regarding the benefits or drawbacks of single versus joint filing.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Filings
If you are reorganizing debt through Chapter 13, your spouse’s income can be used to determine your monthly payments. Keep in mind, this could also mean that you are allowed a shorter period of time for your payment plan if your spouse has a higher income.
Considerations for Bankruptcy Filing
When you are trying to determine whether to file a single or joint bankruptcy petition some of the issues you and your bankruptcy attorney in Marietta will want to consider include:
- What property is jointly owned
- What debts are jointly owed
- How to best utilize the exemptions under GA bankruptcy laws
Benefits of a Joint Bankruptcy Filing
When you meet with a Marietta bankruptcy attorney, he will explain some of the benefits of a joint bankruptcy filing which include:
- Saving on filing costs – if both spouses have equal debt, the petition costs are similar for joint versus single filing
- Elimination of debt – all debt including credit cards, medical bills and other dischargeable debt are eliminated after a Chapter 7 discharge
- Time efficient – filing jointly means you only have to gather the financial and other documents one time versus having to gather them twice as well as attend two creditors meetings.
- Double exemptions – you can claim twice the property exemptions
Downfalls of a Joint Bankruptcy Filing
Your bankruptcy attorney in Marietta will also let you know that a joint petition is not always the answer. Some of the pitfalls you could encounter include when one partner owns a significant amount of property; this property could create problems. In addition, if one partner has a number of priority debts (taxes, child support, etc.) this could be difficult to manage even with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.
When you are trying to decide whether to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a couple or singly, contact Roger Ghai, a bankruptcy attorney in Marietta at the Law Offices of Roger Ghai at (770) 792-1000.