Do both spouses file Chapter 7?

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Updated: 4/13/2007 6:35 pm
The bankruptcy code allows spouses to file a joint case with a single petition in Chapter Seven, or a spouse may file separately. Whether or not both spouses should file depends on what type of debts they have and when they were incurred. If your debts were incurred before marriage or after you were legally separated, your spouse need not file. If you're in a recent marriage, haven't accumulated any joint property, and you want to get rid of your premarital debts, you might want to file solely. The rules are different in a community property state, meaning that your spouse may be a co-debtor for most of the debts you would list if you filed separately. Most debts incurred by a spouse in a community property state are owed by both spouses. In some states, if a man and woman have lived together for a period of time, they may be legally married for purposes of bankruptcy law. Contact a bankruptcy attorney if you're unsure of your marital status, or whether to file Chapter Seven bankruptcy separately or with your spouse.
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