If you have credit accounts just in your name, and your spouse has credit just in their name, and only one of you has financial problems, it's an easy decision that only the one that has financial problems should file bankruptcy.

Just because you are married does NOT "merge" your credit files. If you apply for credit together, yes, both your files are shown to the creditor pulling the credit. But the only thing that causes both of you to suffer credit-wise when only one spouse has financial problems, is if you have joint credit accounts, according to credit expert Phillip Tirone in his recent blog post, "Marry Your Spouse, Not Their Credit Score."

Many times, people come into my Houston, Texas bankruptcy law office and only one spouse wants to file bankruptcy, so that they can "keep the other spouse's credit" so that they can buy a house or something else in the future. Well that is fine, if all of the debts that will be listed in the bankruptcy are in the spouse-to-file's name.

But if people have been married a long time, it's common that they have one or more "joint" accounts, on which they are both equally liable. And it's not a good idea, as Mr. Tirone explains in this article, for only one spouse to have credit, period. Both should have some credit, in case something happens to the other spouse or they get divorce, etc.

In my experience, if the debt that you and your spouse have or a substantial part of the debt is joint debt, it is better for both spouses to file bankruptcy. After bankruptcy, we do a free "credit clean-up" to make your credit as good as it can be. Your credit can recover quickly after a bankruptcy, so long as you do not default on new obligations.

I also offer all of my clients Mr. Tirone's "7 Steps to a 720 Score" credit rebuilding program. If you follow his instructions, you can rebuild a 720 or higher credit score within 12 to 24 months after your bankruptcy discharge.

J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization