Do I have to count my spouse’s income if I am filing a single bankruptcy?

Yes, you do.

I get asked this question all of the time.  IF you are living with someone, whether married or not, I am required to count their income towards your total household income.  Clients will often argue that these debts are only one spouse’s debts, so only his income should be figured in, but this is not how it works.

That being said, if the non-filing spouse has sufficient expenses, their income may not hurt you as much as you think.  So long as your combined income is below the median income for Utah, you’ll still qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy.  If your debts are primarily business debts, you’ll still qualify for a chapter 7.  If their expenses can be justified on Form 22 (the six month calculation of income), then you will still fit into a chapter 7.

I then get asked if it would be okay for the married debtors to claim that they are separated so that one of them can file for an individual bankruptcy and slip under the median income.  NO!  This is fraud.  The U.S. Trustee’s office investigates bankruptcy fraud, and if there is a question, they will ask us to verify that debtors are living separately, with lease agreements, utility bills, or some other evidence of physical separation.  Committing fraud as a way of squeaking into a simpler bankruptcy case is not a good idea.

So, generally, yes, you’ll need to count your nonfiling spouse’s income as part of your overall household income if you file for bankruptcy.

This is not legal advice.  If you need help go to www.robertspaynelaw.com.

 

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