Individuals or businesses may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy under certain circumstances. As a married individual wanting to file for bankruptcy, you may wonder if you can file without involving your spouse, if both of you have to file, but individually, or if you have the option to file jointly. 

According to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, filing either individually or jointly may be an option, and the processes for each are similar. Here are things to consider before you decide which is right for you. 

Married filing options 

You can file without your spouse, but it is still likely to affect him or her. You can each file individually, too. However, filing together may make the paperwork easier since you both have to fill it out. 

Couples filing jointly attend the creditor meetings together versus the solo appearance of individual filers. There are exemptions for certain property depending on whether you file using the federal standard or use state-specific ones. Some of these laws allow for double exemptions for joint filers. 

Similar paperwork requirements 

Whether you file together or as an individual, you must provide the same documents to the court. These documents outline your financial position and include all contracts, leases, current income and tax returns. Consumer debt filers have additional documents to file. 

As a married person, you must provide this financial information for you and your spouse whether filing jointly or not. Your spouse’s expenses and income factor into the total financial picture for the court. 

The collected documents help the appointed trustee handling your case negotiate with your creditors. Once you file, you can enjoy the benefits of no collection calls, maintaining some exempt property and debt relief. The process takes a few months to achieve the sought-after financial freedom.