We are separated (not legally ~ have not lived together since April ‘17).
The debts are solely his personal and business debts.
We own another property he is defaulting on.
I have been a stay at home mom for the duration of our marriage.
Marriage does not come with joint liability for debts. Yes, marital debts can be split between the parties as part of a divorce, but that is exclusively as a consequence of equitable distribution as a remedy for the parties to the divorce, and has nothing to do with the creditors.
Taking divorce out of the equation, his filing of bankruptcy will simply absolve him of his dischargeable debts. Bankruptcy is a voluntary proceeding, and by subjecting himself and his assets to the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court, he cannot impose that same jurisdiction upon you. The exception to this is if he asks or tricks you into filing jointly with him. You are not required to file bankruptcy with him, he can file on his own. I have, however, seen many cases in which one spouse prepares a joint petition and then tricks the spouse into signing it. Make sure you always understand everything that you are signing.
If there is equity in the house (if nobody is paying the mortgage there very likely may not be any equity left, as the bank's foreclosure fees get added to the principal) then you own your half of the equity. If the trustee decides to cash out his equity, he will either have to pay the trustee cash, or sell the house and write you a check for your equity.
Ultimately, if you do choose to file for divorce, his bankruptcy discharge will make the divorce somewhat simpler as there will be less debt to divide.
All views expressed are general opinions and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established unless and until a signed retainer has been executed by the attorney and the client. You should not rely upon any opinion expressed as legal advice and should seek the advice of an attorney of your own choosing.
First, I need to know if you reside in the house in question, Second, the property's fair market value less the outstanding mortgage balance need to be calculated. Third I need to know if you are on the Deed and Mortgage.
In short, please contact a competent Avvo.com attorney near you. Your question may be simple, but the facts needed to answer it are numerous.
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You need to have an in person consultation with the right type of attorney. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is not likely to be the solution. To properly answer your questions and address your concerns, the best way to handle this is by retaining an experienced NY matrimonial and bankruptcy attorney. Use AVVO's Find a Lawyer tool to select a qualified attorney. Good luck. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE! YOU NEED TO SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY WHO IS LICENSED IN YOUR STATE FOR LEGAL ADVICE. This is merely suggestions for you to think about in discussing your situation with the local attorney.
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