Can I file bankruptcy on my house without my husband being effected by it if his name is nowhere on anything involved with it?

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Can I file bankruptcy on my house without my husband being effected by it if his name is nowhere on anything involved with it?

I bought a house almost 5 years ago and got married soon after. I moved out and my mother and aunt now live in the house and divide the mortgage payment. However, my mother has had an auto accident and will probably have to have long term care. If I can’t sell the house, I’ll need to file for bankruptcy.

Asked on March 22, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, you don't file bankruptcy "on a house"--when you file it, it potentially affects all your debts and certainly generally affects your credit rating.

While if you do not file jointly with your husband, it will not *directly* affect him--he'd not be filing bankruptcy--it will certainly have an indirect effect:

1) When applying for credit or a lease, usually the credit of both spouses is checked, not just one;

2) Lenders may view your husband as a riskier prospect because your family is under financial distress and has clearly been willing to file bankruptcy (your filing);

3) During the bankruptcy process, if any assets that are your husband's appear to be or may be yours, creditors or the court may try to include them in the bankruptcy, and you'd have to show proof they are not yours to exclude them.

Also note that bankruptcy will not stop a mortgage lender from foreclosing on a home (though it will delay them from doing so) if you fail to make mortgage payments--though it will stop them from suing you personally for amounts owed under the mortgage (unless you affirm the debt). That is, the bankruptcy affects your personal liabiltiy for the debt, but not the security interest the lender has in the home.


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