2020 Best Invention

Do I Need to Include My Spouse’s Income and Expenses?

4 minute read Upsolve is a nonprofit tool that helps you file bankruptcy for free. Think TurboTax for bankruptcy. Get free education, customer support, and community. Featured in Forbes 4x and funded by institutions like Harvard University so we'll never ask you for a credit card. Explore our free tool


In a Nutshell

Married couples don’t have to file bankruptcy together. Depending on their situation, it may make sense for only one spouse to file. This article explains what information the filer needs to include with respect to their spouse’s income and expenses.

Written by Attorney Karra Kingston
Updated November 28, 2021


If you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and both you and your spouse file your taxes together, then you will need to include your spouse’s income and expenses on your bankruptcy forms. In short, if you and your spouse both maintain the same household, then you must include your spouse’s income. If, however, you both live separately and maintain separate households then your spouse’s income does not need to be included. Keep in mind, that even when you must include your spouse’s income in your bankruptcy, this does not mean that you must file bankruptcy together.

Note:  A spouse is someone you are legally married to. If you and your significant other are not married but combine all or part of your income to pay for shared household expenses, their share is included as an outside contribution.

There are four places where your spouse’s income and expenses will need to be included when completing your bankruptcy forms. Official Form 106J, Schedule J , Official Form 106I, Schedule I, Official Form 122A, Means Test and Official Form 107, Statement of Financial Affairs. Let’s take a look at each of these sections. 

Schedules I and J 

Schedule I and Schedule J, will ask for both, you and your spouse’s income and expenses. In Schedule I, you will need to include your spouse’s employment information such as their position, the address of their employer and how long they have been working there. You will also need to disclose all of your spouse’s income sources and deductions. This includes wages, social security, disability, rental income, or business income. On Schedule J you will need to provide all of your monthly household expenses. Household expenses include any expenses that both you and your spouse pay every month for the benefit of your household. This includes things like your mortgage or rent, car payments, insurance, food, gas, water, and any other utilities. Keep in mind, if you spouse has a car and you don’t, you should still include your spouse’s car payment, because it’s an expense your household pays each month. All expenses that either you or your spouse pay each month should be listed on Schedule J.

The Means Test

The next place that you will need to include your spouse’s income is on Official Form 122A, The Means Test. The Means Test determines whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Congress enacted the Means Test to stop people from filing bankruptcy even though they could afford to pay at least some of their debts. The first part of the Means Test compares your household income to the state’s median household income for a household of your size. Even if your spouse is not filing bankruptcy, you will still be required to include your spouse’s income the calculation of your household income. 

If you do not qualify under the first part of the Means Test because your household income is too high, then you need to go to the second part of the analysis which will take into consideration your deductions and monthly expenses. Even though your spouse is not filing bankruptcy with you, all predetermined monthly expenses, such as housing, utilities, and food, count your spouse as a member of your household. This offsets your spouse’s income in the same way as if they filed bankruptcy with you. 

Note: The second part of the means test is only required if your household income exceeds the median household income in your state. While this is good news for you (you make more than half the households in your state), it unfortunately means that Upsolve can’t help. It will require an in-depth means test analysis to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 relief. Upsolve can connect you to a bankruptcy lawyer in your area for a review of your situation. 

The Marital Deduction for Non-Filing Spouses

You may be concerned that since your spouse’s income has to be included in the Means Test, you may not qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, you still may be able to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if, by using the marital adjustment deduction, you can show that your household income is not enough to meet your financial obligations. The marital deduction helps people qualify for bankruptcy if their non-filing spouse has significant income but does not contribute all of it to the household’s expenses. The marital adjustment deduction allows you to deduct any expenses that your non-filing spouse pays that are separate from your household expenses. In other words, the Means Test takes into account that your spouse may not spend all of his or her income on your household expenses. Some examples of expenses that may be considered marital deductions may be credit card payments that your non-filing spouse will have to continue paying after your bankruptcy is completed, payments towards monthly grooming expenses such as haircuts and manicures, student loan payments, uniforms, domestic support obligations etc. 

If you do plan to use the marital deductions, be prepared to show proof in the form of documents to back up your spouse’s monthly expenses. After all, the marital deduction can make the difference on whether you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That’s why both the case trustee and the Office of the U.S. Trustee may closely review this section to ensure your marital deductions are both, actually being paid by your spouse and reasonable. Make sure that you keep all supporting documents such as receipts or statements to show what your non-filing spouse pays for separately. 

Upsolve User Experiences

721+ Members Online
Anita Thompson
Anita Thompson
★★★★★ 10 days ago
Upsolve was my answer to filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I couldn't afford an attorney and I was able to fill out the forms on my smartphone. It was explained in an easy-to-use format for the everyday lay person. This software is free to use and has YouTube videos as well. I highly recommend using Upsolve if you cannot afford an attorney.
Read more Google reviews ⇾
David
David
★★★★★ 11 days ago
I just had my 341 Meeting on May 5th at 10:30 am. The trustee first asked me to be sworn in by standing and raising my right hand. It was a little weird getting out my car, standing and raising my hand because I had to work that day, but I did so. I had to confirm my name for the record and have I read the bankruptcy information sheet; did I my petitions, and am I the one that signed then. Then the yes or no questions started exactly like the Upsolve 341 Meeting video. Have I filed bankruptcy before; my marital status; length of time since my divorce; do I owe alimony or child support; am I renting; place of employment; do I own a car; how much did I pay for it; have I ever owned real estate; view and verify the information on my tax form; have I listed all creditors. The trustee then said that he needed no further information, and there is nothing more I need to do and this concludes the meeting and I can hang up and finally breathed. The meeting lasted about 15 to 20 minutes! Now I’m waiting for the 60 days to be over, and pray that there truly is nothing more for me to do. Thank you so much Upsolve for being there for me, and for the chest compressions when the stress seemed a little too much at times. Your platform has truly been a blessing. I couldn’t have done this on my own. My prayers to everyone! Remember to breathe. One final thing. The questions that are asked by the trustee are not verbatim. They are similar. Just listen carefully and answer.
Read more Google reviews ⇾
Franky Gonzalez
Franky Gonzalez
★★★★★ 12 days ago
I was kinda scared at first to use with recommendation from local pro bono legal service told me use this service to file. I took me a few months to finally file. finally did it and what a huge relief. the community in general is very helpful.
Read more Google reviews ⇾

Statement of Financial Affairs

The Statement of Financial Affairs (Official form 107) asks about your income in part 2 of the form. Although it asks about your spouse's income, you're only required to provide this information if you're filing Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Let's Summarize...

If you're thinking about filing bankruptcy and your spouse does not want (or need) to file with you, don’t let that stop you. While you do have to include your spouse’s income to calculate your household income, your bankruptcy should have no effect on your spouse if they are not filing with you. 

Can Upsolve help? 

Upsolve is a non-profit legal aid organization that has helped many people file for bankruptcy without the help of an attorney. If you are looking to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without your spouse but are not quite sure about the next steps, visit our learning center, or check out one of our many guides on how to file for bankruptcy and related questions. If you’re eligible, Upsolve can help you prepare your forms to file your case without having to hire an attorney. Even if you’re not eligible to go through our process, our resources are always free and we can even help you find a lawyer



Written By:

Attorney Karra Kingston

LinkedIn

Ms. Kingston began her career as a bankruptcy attorney. She has appeared in front of many federal court judges and has helped numerous debtors obtain a fresh start. Ms. Kingston understands the complex federal rules for discharging debt. While working as a bankruptcy attorney, Ms... read more about Attorney Karra Kingston

It's easy to get help

Choose one of the options below to get assistance with your bankruptcy:

Free Web App

Take our screener to see if Upsolve is right for you.

Take Screener
9,337 families have filed with Upsolve! ☆
or

Private Attorney

Get a free bankruptcy evaluation from an independent law firm.

Find Attorney

Learning Center

Research and understand your options with our articles and guides.

Go to Learning Center →

Already an Upsolve user?

Read Support Articles →

News

    + Show Articles

    Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

    To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.