By Kitty J. Lin
Just because you need to file for bankruptcy does not mean that your spouse will need to file as well. There may be many reasons why only one spouse would file for bankruptcy protection. Maybe your spouse does not have any significant debt to warrant filing for bankruptcy, or your spouse has good credit and does not want to have bankruptcy on his or her credit report, or maybe he or she does not qualify to receive a bankruptcy discharge. Bottom line is your spouse is not required to file for bankruptcy no matter what the reason is. However, just because your spouse is not filing for bankruptcy with you does not mean your spouse does not have any obligations in your bankruptcy case.
Many spouses have the mentality that since they are not filing for bankruptcy they should not be involved in the bankruptcy case in any aspect, but that is not true. Your spouse will still need to provide pay stubs for the 6-month period right before your bankruptcy case is filed and cooperate with your bankruptcy attorney. Your spouse’s pay stubs and yours are needed for purposes of calculating your average household income for the 6-month period on the Means Test. This means if you file your case in December, you will need to provide you and your spouse’s pay stubs from June to November to complete the 6-month period. You need to reassure your spouse that just because he or she is providing pay stubs in your bankruptcy case does not mean that he or she is filing for bankruptcy with you. Your spouse’s credit will not be affected by your bankruptcy filing by providing the necessary pay stubs.
Another requirement is that your bankruptcy lawyer must provide 60 days of pay stubs to the trustee prior to the meeting of creditors. This consists of the 60 day period prior to your bankruptcy filing. Some jurisdictions require the 60 day pay stubs to be filed with the court and some jurisdictions only require the 60 day pay stubs to be provided to your trustee directly. Whether or not your spouse’s pay stubs need to be provided to the trustee will depend on the local rules of your jurisdiction. When in doubt you can always contact your trustee and ask whether your spouse’s pay stubs are required. If you have a bankruptcy attorney, your attorney will be able to answer your questions and your attorney will be able to provide the required documents to the trustee (assuming you provided all the requested documentation to your attorney, of course).