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How Do I File Bankruptcy When My Spouse Refuses to Cooperate. – Cole

“Dear Steve,

I have a lot of debt built up from trying to save my house and lack of income when the real estate went sour ( I was a real estate agent). Needless to say, I spent more trying to keep my business going than my husband approved of and as a result put us in a world of financial distress. It is not just finances that are our problem, obviously, but my husband has refused to share any information about finances with me and refused to discuss finances when we were in trouble.

It is not just my job that cause us to lose our home to foreclosure, there are many variables. Right now I am being sued by a credit card company, I have answered their complaint and they have requested discovery/interrogatories. They will get a judgment soon and I have run out of time. So far I have waited 2 years for my husband to talk to me about it but nothing ever gets accomplished. My husband refuses to provide me with the information necessary to file bankruptcy on my own. He says it is not his problem and that I am the sole reason for all “my” problems.

All of our accounts are still in separate names after 7 years so any debt I have is from me alone. I don’t even know how many accounts he has, where they are at, what balances are… he won’t tell me. (I do not go out and spend all his money). We meet the means test for Chapter 7 as he has been laid off recently.

How do I file Chapter 7 when my spouse refuses to cooperate?

Cole”

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The Answer

 

Dear Cole,

I hope you recognize that the underlying problem here is not the debt, but a tumbling dysfunctional relationship.

It seems to me if the debt is held in separate names then you should just throw in the towel and go file for yourself. This will discharge your responsibility for all the debt you are on the hook for.

It sounds like your husband is trying to punish you rather than work together to overcome this most unfortunate situation. And you can’t fix both of those issues with a technical and legal solution. Bankruptcy is not marriage counseling.

If you are filing jointly then the only hurdle you needed him for was to get through the means test, which it sounds like you have done.

Here is what I would do.

  1. Call your bankruptcy attorney and ask if there is anything missing that would you prevent you from filing as an individual.
  2. Sit down one last time with your spouse, fall on the sword again, and this time let your husband know you are sorry he is not willing or ready to deal with this unfortunate situation together, but you need to deal with it. Explain that the attorney is ready to move ahead with your filing individually and that is your intention.
  3. This course of action on your part will only leave him with his own debts to deal with. You can elect to either help him out on making those payments or be a sympathetic and compassionate shoulder to lean on when he hits the financial wall.

This is all coming to a head for him. Not only will he need to deal with his anger over the past, his defiance in helping you move forward, but the mess that will descend on him from being unemployed and having his own bills.

Get yourself right and prepare to leave him, for him to leave, or for him to fall apart and need you to help pick up the pieces. In this case, it’s like being on an airplane, you need to put your mask on before the child.

What do you think? Make sense?

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

Big Hug!

How Do I File Bankruptcy When My Spouse Refuses to Cooperate.   Cole
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Martha4433

    Great post! Really good insight. It’s always difficult to discuss finances and share money in relationships. Thanks for your advice. I recently stumbled upon this blog like I stumbled upon yours. I think they offer some good points and laughter about the topic: http://burisonthecouch.wordpre

    Thanks for the post! I’d like to see more like it.

  • http://www.chs-law.com/atom.xml Carl H. Starrett II

    Although I am a bankruptcy attorney in California, I agree that the major issue is the fractured relationship with your husband. I would add marriage counseling to your list of tasks.

    Filing bankruptcy does not require your spouse’s permission. You should see a local bankruptcy attorney about what options are available to you in light of your husband’s refusal to cooperate.
    .-= Carl H. Starrett II´s last blog ..Paychecks for California Employees Shrinking For The Rest of 2009 =-.

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