Key Steps in Filing Joint Bankruptcy

If you're unsure of what form of bankruptcy to file, what joint bankruptcy is, what lawyer you should hire, even in the basics on comparing fees and rates, you've come to the right article. This piece will guide you through the basics, but also provide key steps in filing joint bankruptcy with a spouse.

What is joint bankruptcy?
It's always best to go over legal terms and what they mean with an experienced lawyer. If you're completely new to bankruptcy, many of the definitions will seem like complex math problems. However, what you need to know is the basics - that joint bankruptcy occurs when you and your spouse forgo filing separately because of the advantages of filing jointly.

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If you are married, you and your wife work, you have children, you have a house, it would mean you file together because of debts one or both of you have incurred.

Why file?
Joint bankruptcy means you have half the paperwork, half the court time, half the fees, and many other things which make the process easier. If you file jointly, you can expect to get less documentation, though you may have more assets to claim. Court time depends on whether you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but it will be a very quick process in either case. If you hire one lawyer to handle your case, he or she may up the price but it could still be lower than filing separately. Also, if you file bankruptcy and your husband does not, for example, the debts may go over to him. If you file jointly, that does not occur. These are some of the big advantages of jointly filing.

Why not file?
In some cases, it's impossible to file jointly. If you're wife filed one year ago, for example, she technically must wait longer to file with the courts. In other cases, together you may have too high of an income, and assets with too much value. For Texas bankruptcy, the median income for a family your size determines Chapter 7 eligibility, while Chapter 13 eligibility is based on how much debt you have (if you have hundreds of thousands in debt, you may not be able to file).

What does it cost?
Technically, though some of the fees are small, filing jointly is cheaper. Your lawyer may charge you less, and courts have to charge you less. Court fees are minimal - $299 for Chapter 7 and $274 for Chapter 13 - and these are one time fees for both of you. That means you save several hundred dollars; not much, but it's money.

How do you get help?
If you're in Texas, you should hire an experienced, local attorney who can help you make these choices. It may be better for you to file separately. If you have more questions, a Texas attorney can answer them.

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