“How do I declare bankruptcy?”
The first step (not required, but strongly advised given the increased complexity of the bankruptcy process today, thanks to the 2005 law) is to find an experienced and trustworthy New York bankruptcy attorney.
The second step to filing bankruptcy is to figure out if you should file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. This is something again that an experienced bankruptcy attorney will able to help you decide. Additionally, you need to list all of your assets and liabilities, as well as income and living expenses, so that you and your attorney know what may be available for creditors. And if you intend to file for Chapter 7, then the information is needed to determine whether you pass the “means test” and will be eligible for Chapter 7.
Once these things are sorted out, then the question “How do I declare bankruptcy” can be addressed by completing the bankruptcy petition and submitting it to the Bankruptcy Court. (FYI, an established bankruptcy attorney will have software into which all of this information can be input. On top of that, most lawyers have the ability to file your case electronically right from their desktops.)
“Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?”
The short answer is “Yes.”
The more complicated issue is figuring out which debts you’re responsible for and which ones your spouse is responsible for. New York is an “equitable distribution” state (as opposed to a “community property” state), which means that each spouse owns whatever they brought to the marriage (including debts) plus half of all jointly owned property.
Additionally, if you are living together, then you must disclose your spouse’s income.
Answering the question “Can I file bankruptcy without my spouse?” is another reason why it is crucial to have an experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side. Depending on your circumstances, there may be advantages to filing alone, or to filing jointly. And it takes good foresight and understanding of the ins and outs of the bankruptcy process to be able to know which one is best for you.