My fiancée has debt she incurred before I met her for which she had planned to file bankruptcy. She does not want me to be liable for any of that debt.
If she files bankruptcy after you marry, it will not have any effect on your credit. However, your income would have to be considered to determine if she qualifies for a chapter 7. The only way to answer the questions as to which would be the best option is for the two of you to take the time to meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney that handles chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases. Most bankruptcy attorneys will meet with you at no charge for the initial appointment. You can use the Avvo "Find a Lawyer" link at the top of this page to search for an attorney.
Answers and comments provided are for general discussion only. My comments are not to be considered legal advice and they do not create an attorney-client relationship.
There is no absolute yes or no answer to this question. However, most likely, she should file bankruptcy before you get married. Even if you are scheduled to be married soon, a bankruptcy can usually be filed fairly quickly. One reason to possibly wait until after the marriage would be if both spouses have debt. As one of the attorneys here noted, if you wait until after the marriage, the court will consider both incomes to determine whether you are eligible to file a Chapter 7.
Most attorneys offer a free initial consultation. I recommend you take advantage of that opportunity. Many times, a basic consultation can be done over the phone.
Mr. Greeves is licensed to practice law throughout the state of Arizona. His office is in Tempe. Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied upon. Each state has different laws, every situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Debts acquired before marriage by one person are not the responsibility of the other person after marriage.
I am sure a local attorney would advise you that it would be beneficial for your fiancé to file bankruptcy before, not after, marriage. It sounds like you are planning on getting married, or at least acquiring joint property. Generally, a person is not liable for any debt unless they obligate themselves, or some law such as a Marital Expense Act or other law makes them liable. Others are Family Expense Acts, and Domestic Support Obligations. Since your fiancé has debts that she made either before you met her, or before marriage, even in a community property state like Arizona, you most likely will not be liable for them. Debts made by either of you after marriage may be satisfied from community property only, usually. But, while you are not liable, she will use her income to pay pre-marital debts, and if she decides to file bankruptcy after marriage, your income will be considered in determining if she can file.
Peter Francis Geraci is a member of Geraci Law LLC. Any answer given does NOT create an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied on in any specific situation: the answer is only intended as a discussion of general issues as a public service. Consult a licensed attorney experienced in bankruptcy, in person, to obtain legal advice.
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