Does my spouse have to file bankruptcy if I file?

No!  your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy along with you if he or she does not want to.  You can file alone if you wish without your spouse becoming part of the bankruptcy at all.

If the non-filing spouse has significant personal debts and they want to file with you they can but they are not forced to.  If your spouse does not file then their credit score should not be affected by the bankruptcy.

There are some things you should know about filing individually and filing jointly:

Community debts– You will get a discharge for them even if you file individually.  The non-filing spouse will still be responsible for their separate debts after the filing.  All of the debts that are considered community debts will be discharged though the bankruptcy.

Credit score–  The non-filing spouse should not have their credit score affected by the bankruptcy of their spouse.  Their credit score will remain the same after the bankruptcy is completed.

Household income– The non-filing spouse’s income will be included in the income calculations whether they file or not.  In a bankruptcy a spouse’s income is considered to be contributed to the household.   The non-filing spouse’s income is included in schedule i of the filing spouse’s bankruptcy but they certainly do get a deduction for all of the non-filing spouse’s expenses.

Community property- If you have been married to your spouse for a while in California you are considered to have a community property interest in the assets of your spouse even if they are titled in your spouse’s name.  Thus this interest must be included and exempted in the bankruptcy even if you do not file but your spouse does.

Getting credit in the future– The non-filing spouse can get credit right after their spouse files bankruptcy because the non-filing spouse’s credit score will not be affected by the bankruptcy of their spouse.  If either of you need to buy something on credit then the non-filing spouse can be the one to do it.

The filing spouse will get credit card solicitations after the bankruptcy discharge.  These cards can then be used to re-build the filing spouse’s credit score.

I am a San Diego bankruptcy attorney.  For further questions please visit my websites at or  Or call my office for a free consultation at (619) 702-5015.  Call now for a free credit report and analysis!

For a free e-book on “13 things to do to prepare for your bankruptcy filing” please e-mail me at