Massachusetts or Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the Northeastern United States, the 7th smallest state by land area and the 3rd most densely populated of the 50 states of the United States. If you are residing in Massachusetts and you are married and considering to file either a chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy you have to consider several factors more than just which chapter to file such as will you file jointly or individually and if you are considering a divorce you will need to determine which chapter to file, when to file and how to file jointly or separately and how the bankruptcy will affect child support, properties you own separately and jointly and the debts you separately or obtained together.

Filing Jointly

Being married gives you an advantage of filing a single joint bankruptcy petition which is more convenient in terms of time (as you don’t have to attend separate hearings) and cost (filing fees are the same for separate and joint filing, attorney’s fees will be considerably lower because the work involved will be less tedious) and the fact that you get to eliminate your debts in one blow. A joint petition is not without its complications since it is affected or rather it depends on your incomes, assets, and debts that you and your spouse have:

It might be difficult to qualify for a chapter 7 bankruptcy

For you to qualify for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have to pass the means test which compares your income with the median income for a similar household in Massachusetts, where if your income is less than the median you automatically qualify to file but if it greater than the median, you will have to disclose your expenses on the means test for further examination to approve your petition. The worst part of it is that regardless of whether you are filing jointly or separately you have to present both of your incomes and the fact that the median income of a two-person household is only but slightly above that of a single person household and not twice the value.

It might be difficult to protect all your property when married

Bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep a certain amount of property in Chapter 7. If you file jointly the exemption value may be doubled because of the notion that two people own more property than one person and if your exemptions are not doubled it will mean that you will not be able to exempt all the property you two own if you file a joint petition; therefore in this case it’s better to file separately and have your assets exempted disjointedly and due to the complexity surrounding exemptions be advised to consult a lawyer before filing.

Only one spouse has debt(s)

In a case where only one spouse is indebted, then there is no need for them to file a joint bankruptcy petition, however the non-filing spouse’s income will still be disclosed in the petition but s/he will not be part of the case nor his or her separately owned property unless you reside in a community state and attending hearing is option to the non-filing spouse.

 

 

Sources

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/massachusetts-bankruptcy-homestead-exemption.html

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/filing-considerations-married-couples

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/newlyweds-bankruptcy.html