A common question we often get is whether when one spouse files for Bankruptcy, the other spouse has to file too. The answer is no, unless there are other reasons the spouse needs to file. In most facets of Bankruptcy debtors are treated as individuals with their own debts and assets, even in joint cases filed by both spouses. In fact, when a joint case is filed by a husband and wife (or a same-sex couple where state law allows), there are actually two separate Bankruptcy “estates” created. They are simply administered in the same case for convenience. It is fairly common that one spouse has a significant amount of debt, whether it be from medical emergencies, credit cards, or judgments in lawsuits. On occasion, one spouse will have entered the marriage trying to clean up their finances, but finds the problems get overwhelming. Unless the other spouse is also liable for all, or a significant amount, of the debt there is usually no reason for that spouse to file. To the contrary, it is usually better for that spouse to keep their credit score to help the couple down the line. Of course, if both spouses are liable for a significant amount of debt, and a discharge of one will still leave the couple with debt hanging over their heads, both will consider having to file a case. If there is a question about this, both spouses should attend the initial consultation with a good Bankruptcy lawyer. Finally, I will note that even if both spouses have to file a case, there is no requirement they file a joint case at the same time. There may be reasons that it is beneficial for one spouse to wait and file later. It may even be the case that one spouse should file a Chapter 7 case and the other a Chapter 13 case. Again, this is something that will be discussed in the initial consultation.