An Overview on Bankruptcy and Community Property

Bankruptcy is considered to be a legal process under the United States federal law to help the debt stricken consumers to discharge the debts. Bankruptcy is considered to be the last resort of the debt relief program. However, community property is the marital right bestowed by the state law. There is an intermingling relation between the federal bankruptcy law and state community property law. But some complicated legal issues emerge when the married couples in a community property state plan to file bankruptcy.

Know about community property states:

Each state in the US is required to determine whether to follow community property law. In January 2011, almost nine states are following community property law and it includes Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. In Alaska the residents have the option to follow anyone law from community property or common law property.

What are the filing options?

A married couple is eligible to file bankruptcy separately or jointly irrespective of the fact whether the couple belongs to community property states. Both the spouses should file bankruptcy at the same time but they should file separately. The bankruptcy court will not compel the married couple to file jointly but filing separately can leave an effect on community property and community debts.

What is joint filing?

It will be easier to manage the legal issues when the spouses file jointly in a community property state. If a couple file jointly then their debts will be included in the bankruptcy proceeding regardless of the fact that the debts or property are separate or community. When both the spouses file jointly then all marital debts and property will be included.

What is Separate Filing?

A spouse who’s planning to file bankruptcy separately might undergo legal complications. Filing bankruptcy can have an effect on spouse's separate property and separate debts. If your spouse files separate bankruptcy then it’ll not have an impact on your debt or property if you are a non filer. Therefore, your property will not be exposed to risk of liquidation and your debts will not be discharged as well. In a separate filing, your community property and community debts will be included in bankruptcy although your spouse might not be involved in the filing. Therefore, the community property can be liquidated and all community debts can be discharge.

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An Overview on Bankruptcy and Community Property
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