The short answer is generally “yes.”
When a married person consults with me as a bankruptcy attorney in my office in the Bay Area, sometimes they want to file bankruptcy under their name alone. They do NOT want to file with their spouse or include their spouse’s income.
A common example is a second marriage where the debtor consulting with me has debt from a prior marriage that their current spouse had nothing to do with, and wants nothing to do with! Another example is their spouse has great credit, and they don’t want to do anything to harm that credit. Yet another example is where most of the income or valuable assets are under the other spouse’s name.
However, bankruptcy law requires that all household income be reported, regardless of whether one spouse or both spouses file bankruptcy. If both spouses live in the household, then both incomes are reported. If the household only includes one spouse (i.e., the spouses are separated or have separate households), then only the debtor’s income is reported. (The reason for this law is that bankruptcy is for people who cannot afford to pay their debts, not those who don’t want to pay them. If your household income, including your spouse’s income, is enough to pay your debts, you are expected to pay them.)
Call us today to make an appointment for a free consultation, and we can show you whether it would be better to file an individual or joint bankruptcy and how your non-filing spouse’s income must be listed.