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How Bankruptcy Affects Your Spouse

Hoke Law Firm Oct. 10, 2023

In the state of Louisiana, individuals and married couples who are experiencing financial distress may be able to achieve debt relief by filing for bankruptcy. In addition, legally married couples can file their bankruptcy petition individually or jointly with their partner. However, whether you're filing a separate or joint bankruptcy, understanding how your case affects your spouse is imperative to make well-informed decisions. 

At Hoke Law Firm, we have the skills and resources to assist and guide clients in their bankruptcy filings. Our experienced Louisiana bankruptcy attorney can tell you about the benefits and drawbacks of filing for bankruptcy individually or jointly with your partner. We can determine the ideal option for your financial circumstances and help file your bankruptcy petition. Our firm proudly serves clients across Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as the neighboring areas of Lafayette and New Orleans. 

Separate Property vs. Community Property in Louisiana 

In Louisiana, property, assets, liabilities, and debts owned by married couples may be categorized into – separate property and community property. 

Separate Property 

Separate property includes all property and assets acquired or owned by one spouse before the marriage. Also, personal gifts, inheritance, and personal injury compensation received during the marriage will be considered as separate property. 

Community Property 

In contrast, community property includes all property, assets, and debts accrued through the efforts of one or both spouses during the couple's marriage. Common examples of marital property include the marital home, cars, royalties, rental income, furniture pieces, credit card charges, pension plans, wages, bank accounts, 401k accounts, stocks, and all other assets accumulated during their marital union. 

Filing Bankruptcy as an Individual 

As previously mentioned, married couples can file for bankruptcy separately or as an individual. Here are some benefits and downsides of filing for bankruptcy individually: 


  • The non-filing spouse's separate assets are protected during bankruptcy. 

  • It eliminates some of the general unsecured debt of the indebted spouse. 

  • Couples can protect more property and assets by filing their bankruptcy case together as separate entities. 

  • The non-filing spouse can preserve their good credit rating. 


  • Creditors can still go after the non-filing spouse's property and income. 

  • Couples who are lawfully married must add their partner's earnings (non-filing spouse's income) 

  • If you and your partner make a huge income, you won't pass the Chapter 7 "means test." 

  • Filing concurrently as separate entities may cost more attorney and court fees. 

Filing Bankruptcy as a Couple 

Alternatively, lawfully married couples may petition for bankruptcy jointly in Louisiana. Here are some benefits and downsides of filing joint bankruptcy: 


  • It helps reduce attorney fees and court costs. 

  • Married couples can keep more assets and property by filing jointly. 

  • The general unsecured debts and other dischargeable debts of both spouses will be wiped out. 

  • The couples can streamline the whole bankruptcy process by filing one petition. 

  • It allows couples to double their available exemptions. 


  • Only one party can petition for bankruptcy if their spouse recently filed. 

  • Filing jointly will affect both spouses' credit ratings. 

If you're going through a difficult financial situation and thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you need to reach out to a reliable bankruptcy lawyer immediately. Your attorney can help you decide if you should file separately or jointly and fully explain the different factors to consider prior to filing your bankruptcy petition. 

Factors to Consider 

To determine whether to file bankruptcy for bankruptcy as an individual or jointly with your partner, here are some essential things to consider: 

  • The amount of separate or marital property you own. 

  • Whether most of your debts are separate or marital debts. 

  • The spouse who owes the majority of the debts. 

  • Whether you or your partner previously or recently filed for bankruptcy. 

  • Whether you are currently separated or already considering a divorce. 

A seasoned bankruptcy attorney can examine the conditions, determine the best course of action, and direct you through every legal procedure involved from start to finish. 

Speak With an Attorney About Your Situation  

In 2022, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, there were 7,321 total bankruptcy filings in Louisiana. These petitioners didn't file their case alone, and neither should you. If you're trying to decide whether to file for bankruptcy individually or jointly with your spouse, consulting with a dedicated bankruptcy attorney is crucial for trusted guidance. 

At Hoke Law Firm, we're poised and ready to advise and guide individuals and couples through the complexities of bankruptcy. Also, we will help file your bankruptcy case, strategize an effective approach to protect your assets and spouse, and help you achieve the financial relief you desire. 

Contact us at Hoke Law Firm today to schedule a simple consultation with a knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer. Our dedicated attorney is ready to help you get on the right path to financial recovery. We're proud to serve clients across Baton Rouge, Lafayette, and New Orleans, Louisiana.