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Joint Petitions in Bankruptcy

While marriage can often be a financial benefit for both parties, sometimes they can begin with prior financial issues or the joining can lead to increased financial difficulties. These difficulties can come from one or both parties bringing prior financial issues into the marriage or can be created after the union. Of course, sometimes the difficulties come from issues outside the marriage. However, if you and your partner find yourself being harassed by creditors there are many concerns that need to be examined when considering bankruptcy protections either jointly or possibly individually. There are also the issues of joint petitions and/or individual petitions when the married parties are considering a divorce. You will find that your Montgomery, Selma, and Central Alabama bankruptcy attorneys at The Sellers Law Firm will be able to guide you through the issues of filing a joint bankruptcy petition or an individual petition for protection from your creditors.

First a comment about who may file joint petitions. Since bankruptcy is federal law and marriage is state law, your state law may impact your ability to file a joint petition for bankruptcy protections. Some states have marriage for same sex couples and some states only have civil unions. Since the Supreme Court has recognized marriages for same sex couples, now same sex couples can file joint petitions together in Alabama. Marriage does not require that both parties must file bankruptcy, and there are often situations where it is better for only one party to file and not the other one. There is also the consideration of time and expense when considering joint or individual bankruptcy. As usual, a joint bankruptcy is less expensive than doubling costs and effort as compared to each party filing an individual bankruptcy.

Also, when considering joint filings, you need to consider who is legally required to be responsible for the debt. If both partners sign on the document creating the debt, then they are both legally responsible for the debt. So, if you are an authorized user on a credit card then you may not be legally responsible for re-paying charges that you make. This can be used in a situation where you are trying to determine if a joint or individual petition needs to be filed. Also, if a partner comes into the marriage with lots of outstanding debt and the other person is debt free then it may make since to only have the partner with the debt to file while preserving the debt free partners good credit rating. You also must consider whether a Chapter 13 or a Chapter 7 is best for you and your spouse. If you have questions about which is best for you and your spouse, then call or text The Sellers Firm at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377) or you may email us at bsellers@sellerslawfirm.com. You may also us the Contact Form on our website. Our phone lines are answered 24 hours a day, and we can usually meet with you within 24 hours. All consultations are free, and we can usually put an immediate plan of action into place to solve your financial issues.

What we have learned is that the situation is sometimes complicated when you have some individual debt and some joint debts. If only one person files for bankruptcy and is relieved from paying joint debt by a discharge the other partner may continue to be responsible to the debt. There is also the issue of ownership of property. When filing for bankruptcy protections you must list all assets and debts for the filing parties. You also have to include information about the household income and expenses even if an individual petition is filed. This does not mean that a non-filing spouse is now a party to the bankruptcy: it is only that bankruptcy laws require household income and expenditures must be considered. But when a married individual files for bankruptcy without their spouse the issue of co-owned property may need to be considered. If the property is used to secure a debt (like a car or house), then the creditor may have the right to take the property and sell it to pay off debt despite the fact that a non-filing party may have an ownership interest in the property. This is because the property has been pledged as security thereby allowing the party incurring the debt to receive the funds from the debt. Also, a spouse that has extensive individually owned property may not want to file for bankruptcy because the value of the individually held property may require unnecessary payment to unsecured creditors. Yes, it may sound complicated, but we believe that we can explain in a matter that everyone understands when we meet with you!

Ultimately, when filing for a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy, either jointly or individually, you want to have as much of your debt excused through discharge and while keeping as much of your property as possible. We want to be your Montgomery, Selma, and Central Alabama bankruptcy attorneys, and we will explore all of these issues when advising you between filing an individual or joint Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition.

At The Sellers Law Firm, our goal is to provide you with an immediate plan of action to resolve your financial issues. All consultations are free, and our phone lines are answered 24 hours a day. We can usually meet with you within 24 hours of contacting us. We have four convenient offices located in Montgomery, Selma, Greenville, and Troy. Call or text us at 334-LAWYERS (529-9377) or use the Contact Form on our website. You may also contact us by email at bsellers@sellerslawfirm.com. Take control of your debts before your debts and creditors take control of you! Doing nothing changes nothing so contact us now for immediate assistance.


The Sellers Law Firm is designated a debt relief agency by an Act of Congress and the President of the United States. We have proudly assisted people seeking relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code for four decades.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Brandon was my first choice for an attorney because he is part of the community and you see him at the local store or PTA meetings and he always has time for you and answer your concerns. Ronica Phifer
★★★★★
The Sellers Law Firm represented me in my social security case, and later in my Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I have been very happy with all that you have done for me, and I refer people to you all the time. Thanks for all that you have done for me and my family. Angie Langford
★★★★★
I would like to start out by saying Brandon sellers is more than a lawyer that has helped my family out in numerous occasions but he's also a great friend to our family. Whenever he can't find a resolution for the problem he always recommends somebody that can. I've known him for years grew up together always been really good friends. I like to say in closing I'm really glad I know him I'm glad he's been able to help us when we've needed him. Thanks for everything you've done. Timothy Palmer
★★★★★
The sellers law firm is the best in Alabama they are friendly and very professional from the attorneys to the people in the office. They where very helpful throughout the whole process and even after it was over. So if you are in need for a bankruptcy firm give Brandon sellers a call you won't be disappointed Thank you Again Brian Floyd
★★★★★
I highly recommend Sellers Law Firm, they are fantastic and care about their clients. They walk you through step by step and advise you of your options. Sheila Wright