The Bankruptcy Law Clinic Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How is my bankruptcy going to affect my spouse’s good credit?

This is a pretty common question.  Often, the debts that are forcing someone to consider bankruptcy are part of the debris from a previous relationship or marriage.  It’s natural to want to protect your spouse from your past. 

Earlier today I got a call from a woman who was considering bankruptcy.  Despite earning 65k a year and having college age kids, she had to get her mom to sign a new car loan.  Her own credit had been shot due to an ex husband being an authorized user on her cards in the past.  She was now in a new marriage and wanted a fresh start.  She was worried how her possible future bankruptcy would affect his credit.

The good news is that your spouse’s credit will not be affected by you filing a bankruptcy UNLESS you have joint debt.  Your spouse is not obligated to go to court for your bankruptcy nor does her social security number appear anywhere on the bankruptcy petition. 

Sometimes spouses have joint credit cards and sometimes one spouse is an authorized user on the other’s account.  There is an important difference in bankruptcy.  If you and your spouse applied for a joint credit card or car loan.  Your bankruptcy will eliminate your obligation to the debt, not your spouse’s.  If you applied for a credit card, got approved and then requested that an extra card be sent in your spouse’s name, then your spouse is not responsible for the bill.

Buying a house muddies the water a bit as there are many different documents involved.  There are many other factors relating to marital debt that should be considered when one spouse is considering bankruptcy.  It’s why we always ask that both spouses be present for our initial consultation.  Even if you think coming to visit a bankruptcy attorney will just lead to another marital fight about money, experience tells us that taking the first step to actually solving your financial problems and getting a fresh start usually leads to a better, stronger relationship.

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