Joint Petition for Bankruptcy

If a husband and wife are both eligible to petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, then both of the spouses can file a joint petition for voluntary relief. In most cases, it is better for both the husband and wife to file one joint petition since both spouses are typically obligated in the same consumer debts incurred during the marriage. There is no requirement, however, for a husband and wife to file a joint bankruptcy petition.

If the husband files for bankruptcy without his wife, then only the husband's debts will be discharged in the bankruptcy. If the debts are jointly held by both the husband and the wife, then the wife is still liable for the debt even after the bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing will show up on the husband's credit report, but will not appear on the wife's credit report.

By filing a joint petition for voluntary relief under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the financial obligations and debts can be discharged to prevent further collection efforts against the husband and wife. The joint petition for bankruptcy is often the best way for both the husband and wife to receive the "fresh start" promised by the Bankruptcy Code. 

This is especially true since the debtor's interest in community property comes into the bankruptcy estate as does that of the debtor's spouse, whether or not that spouse has filed a petition. Additionally, all income for both spouses must be disclosed regardless of whether the petition is jointly filed.

The filing of either a joint petition by a husband and wife or an individual petition results in a single filing fee for Chapter 12 cases in the amount of $310 and a petition filed under either Chapter 7 a filing fee of $335. In a Chapter 7 case, the debtor can apply to have the fee waived if their household income is below 150% of the national poverty line.

Attorneys for the Joint Petition for Bankruptcy in Dallas, TX

If you are legally married and are considering filing for bankruptcy either with or without your spouse, then seek out the services of an experienced bankruptcy attorney, such as Nick Inman or Linda Littlefield to learn more about how to get a "fresh start" with bankruptcy. 

We can help you decide whether you should file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. We can also help you determine which debts are joints and which debts belong to one spouse or the other.

We represent clients in bankruptcy court throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area including in the Northern District of Texas at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Dallas, the Eldon B. Mahon U.S. Courthouse in Fort Worth. We also represent clients in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Plano, TX.

At Littlefield Law Firm, our bankruptcy attorneys with offices in Dallas, TX, represent clients throughout Dallas County, Collin County, Kaufman County, and Rockwall County. Contact us to learn more about how your spouse's decision to file for bankruptcy might impact your ability to keep your house or automobile. Our bankruptcy attorneys in Dallas, TX, help clients file for bankruptcy in joint petitions signed by both the husband and wife when appropriate.

Call us at (972) 812-0900 today.


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Overview of Joint Bankruptcy Petitions in Texas


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Considerations for Joint Bankruptcy in Dallas County

In general, a joint bankruptcy filing typically allows couples to save a significant amount of money simply by having to pay to file only one petition instead of two. It can also reduce legal fees.

Still, there are important factors that need to be taken into consideration before proceeding with a joint bankruptcy petition. For example, when a spouse has too much priority debt (obligations such as child support that need to be paid in full) or owns too much property, individual filings could be more advantageous.

It is important for any couple considering joint bankruptcy in Texas to consult an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can review all of the types of debts being addressed as well as the kinds of property involved. Our firm can identify the best path forward so you and your spouse can both get a fresh start.


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No Joint Involuntary Bankruptcy Case

As explained in 11 U.S.C.A. § 302, the law does not provide for a joint involuntary case. In King v. Fidelity Nat. Bank of Baton Rouge, 712 F.2d 188, 37 Fed. R. Serv. 2d 346 (5th Cir. 1983), the court found it was an error to join the debtor's wife in an involuntary petition. The courts have found that a married couple does not constitute a “person” under 11 U.S.C.A. § 303(a).

The law generally distinguishes between the joint administration of a case filed by a husband and wife and the “substantive consolidation” of the estate of two debtors. Just because a joint petition is filed does not mean that an automatic “substantive consolidation” will occur.

Although the law is not well settled, the court in In re Balas, 449 B.R. 567, 65 Collier Bankr. Cas. 2d (MB) 1307 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2011) found that a same-sex (gay or lesbian) couple could file a joint Chapter 13 case. The court found that the federal Defense of Marriage Act did not serve an important or valid governmental interest which means that the Act violated the debtors' right to equal protection under the law.


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Joint Petition Resources in Texas

Fee Schedule | Northern District of Texas | United States Bankruptcy Court — Visit this section of the Northern District of Texas Bankruptcy Court website to view the most recent listing of bankruptcy fees. In addition to petition filing fees for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases, you can also view fees for motions to divide joint petitions, conversions, and adversary complaints. You can also find various miscellaneous fees. 

Court Locator | United States Courts — Texas is divided into four federal judicial districts, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas convenes in Dallas. A number of counties immediately north of Dallas County fall within the jurisdiction of the Eastern District of Texas, and the Western District of Texas encompasses several counties only a little more south of Dallas. Use this website to find the appropriate court for your particular place of residence.


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Find a Joint Petition Bankruptcy Lawyer in Dallas, TX

Are you and your spouse considering filing a joint bankruptcy petition in North Texas? Make sure you contact Littlefield Law Firm for help understanding all of your legal options.

Our Dallas bankruptcy attorneys assist individuals in communities throughout Rockwall County, Dallas County, Collin County, and Kaufman County. You can have our lawyers review your case and help you understand all of your legal options when you call (972) 812-0900 or complete an online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, February 16, 2018.

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