No, your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy with you. However, if you have any joint debts that you want to discharge in your bankruptcy, your spouse will become responsible for that debt unless they file for bankruptcy with you.
Can I file jointly with my spouse?
Yes, you can file jointly. There should be no additional charge for a spouse filing. The only extra work to do in a joint filing is adding an additional name and social security number to the petition.
Does my spouse have to file or sign if I want to file individually?
No, your spouse doesn’t have to file but, if most of your debts are joint debts, he or she may want to. There is no need for a spouse to file if the debts are not in his or her name. If you are filing a Chapter 7, and the bills are also in your spouse’s name, he or she generally should file to be protected. (Cosigners are protected in a 13 with 100% plans, but are not in a Chapter 7.)
Will it affect my spouse’s credit? Is he/she responsible for my credit cards if he/she is an authorized user?
No, filing will not affect your spouse’s individual credit, but if he or she is a co-signer on any debt that is not paid that will affect him or her. The fact that you filed bankruptcy does not appear on a spouse’s credit report unless he or she also files bankruptcy. Unless your spouse has signed to be legally responsible, they are not responsible. However, many credit card companies will argue that she is responsible. They may even put a “no pay” on her credit report if the amount is unpaid; however, she may ask any credit reporting service to correct that.
If she does so, the credit card company will have to show that she signed for it. If they can’t, it will be removed from her credit report file. In other words, the credit card collectors may try to collect from her by claiming she is liable, but she really is not. If they damage her credit record, it may be grounds for a lawsuit. Credit is normally granted based on a score from your past payment history, the amount of debt that you owe, the length of time you have been repaying present credit, if you have opened credit recently, and the types of credit accounts you have.