A frequent question that I receive from married people who are are thinking about a bankruptcy to re-organize their finances is: can I file a bankruptcy without my spouse? The answer is: Yes! The bankruptcy code permits a married person to file a bankruptcy petition without their spouse joining.
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In 2005, Congress made significant changes to the bankruptcy code, which were designed to make it more difficult for consumers to get debt relief. These new standards made bankruptcy law more complicated and challenging for consumers and the attorneys who assist them. After this law was passed, consumer bankruptcy lawyers noticed that they had to spend much more time on each case, in order to help their clients comply with all of the new requirements. A recent study now confirms what consumer bankruptcy attorneys in Orlando have known for quite some time – the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy laws have increased the cost of seeking bankruptcy protection.
A recent study by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts shows a significant increase in bankruptcy filers over the age of 55. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of these filers grew by 61%. The study, which was published in the September 2010 issue of ABI Journal, found that the recent housing crises has worsened the already precarious financial condition of many older Americans who are facing retirement. Many residents of Orlando and the central Florida area moved here to enjoy retirement. However, during our current unprecedented economic downturn, many older Orlando residents are looking at having to file bankruptcy to protect themselves from creditors. Decreased home values and foreclosures also threaten the retirement plans of older citizens. Older citizens are vulnerable to a financial crisis brought on by uninsurability and medical debt, frequent causes of the need to file bankruptcy.Orlando residents facing retirement with limited assets can benefit enormously by working with a bankruptcy attorney to discharge debt that would otherwise swallow up whatever assets have been preserved for retirement. The good news is that retirement assets are usually exempt from liquidation in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. A chapter 7 discharge, or even a chapter 13 repayment plan, are legal tools that offer hope to retirees, or soon-to-be retirees, who face the golden years with excessive, burdensome debt and limited income to repay it. To preserve their assets and limited income, these individuals should seek a free consultation with an experienced and knowledgable Orlando bankruptcy attorney.
The executive director of the prestigious American Bankruptcy Institute predicts that consumer bankruptcy filings will increase during 2011. In a press release issued on January 3, the executive director of ABI, Samuel J. Gerdano, states: “The steady climb of consumer filings notwithstanding the 2005 bankruptcy law restrictions demonstrate that families continue to turn to bankruptcy as a result of high debt burdens and stagnant income growth…We expect that consumer filings will continue to rise in 2011.”
Two individuals recently consulted with me, both whom had waited too late to speak with a bankruptcy attorney. One had recently married, one had recently divorced. Both of them had substantial debt that they needed to erase to create a fresh start for their financial life. Unfortunately, by waiting to file their bankruptcy until after marriage and divorce, they had created serious legal problems. Here’s why.