When a person consults with me as a bankruptcy attorney in my office in Miami (actually, the Kendall Tamiami area), many times 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 spouse’s name.
However, the bankruptcy code requires that household income be reported, regardless of whether one spouse or both spouses file bankrupty. So, 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, have separate households), then only the debtor’s income is reported.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, “I’ll just SAY I’m separated…”
*!* BAD IDEA *!* BAD IDEA *!* BAD IDEA *!*
Did I mention that telling a lie to the court is a BAD IDEA? Of course. It would be a SERIOUS misjudgment on anyone’s part to think that lying to the court to try to get rid of some debts would ever work. The bankruptcy court, and all the outstanding professionals that work in the court, have seen thousands of cases, and they will easily and immedaitely see the situation for what it is. If a person is caught lying in a bankruptcy, the least of the bad things that will happen to them is that they would not get a discharge. The worst that could happen? Well… let’s just say it involves bringing their toohtbrush to court, and getting measured for an orange jumpsuit!
OK, so we tell the truth! Does that mean your spouse must pay for all your debts? No! Including their pay may not affect the case at all. If it does affect the case, and withouty their pay you would not have to make payments to the court, but with their pay you would have to make payments to the court, well… that, as they say, is how the cookie crumbles. At least they have you!
So, if you are getting married to someone who has a lot of income, COME SEE ME before you get married! Better yet, come see me before you get engaged!
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