If you are married but filing for bankruptcy without your spouse, he or she does not need to attend your 341(a) meeting of creditors. However, your spouse can still accompany you to the hearing room for support. Read on to learn more about whether your nonfiling spouse may attend your bankruptcy meeting of creditors.
(If you're not sure if you should file for bankruptcy alone or jointly with your spouse, check out the articles in Bankruptcy Filing Considerations for Married Couples.)
Nonfiling Spouses Do Not Have to Attend the Meeting of Creditors
When you file for bankruptcy, you are required to attend a bankruptcy meeting of creditors where the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors can examine you under oath about your financial affairs. If you file for bankruptcy without your spouse, only you must attend the meeting. Your nonfiling spouse is not required to be there because he or she is not seeking bankruptcy relief.
However, bankruptcy meetings of creditors are open to the public. In most cases, the hearing takes place in a single room where debtors are called to the trustee’s desk one by one while others watch. As a result, your spouse can accompany you for support and observe your examination. But he or she is normally not allowed to come up to the trustee’s desk or answer any questions on your behalf.
(Learn more about what happens at the meeting of creditors.)
The Bankruptcy Trustee May Request Documents from Your Nonfiling Spouse
Even if you are filing for bankruptcy alone, you must disclose your spouse’s income and any jointly owned assets in your bankruptcy. If you live in a community property state, you will usually need to disclose all assets owned by your spouse as well. (Learn more about the bankruptcy petition and schedules that you'll have to fill out and file.)
As a result, even though your spouse does not have to attend your meeting of creditors, the bankruptcy trustee may ask you questions regarding your spouse's financial affairs. Further, you may need to provide documentation (such as recent paystubs) to verify your spouse’s income or assets.