When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must file a packet of papers with the court that includes detailed information about your income, assets, debts, and expenses. One of those forms, Schedule J: Your Expenses, requires you to list you ongoing monthly expenses. You must also provide information about your spouse and your dependents.
When it comes to listing your dependents, some debtors are unclear as to who counts as a dependent. Read on to learn who you should list on Schedule J.
(To learn more about Schedule I, including how to complete it, see Completing Schedule J of the Bankruptcy Petition.)
If you and your spouse provide at least 50% of support for someone, you should include that person as a dependent on Schedule J. You don’t list the dependent’s name, but instead that person’s relationship to you (for example, son or mother-in-law) and the dependent's age. Do not include your spouse as a dependent.
Although the most obvious dependents are your biological children, here are some other categories of dependents to include:
Minor children. This includes your own children and your spouse’s children who either live with you or for whom you pay at least half of their support. It can also include children you are caring for, foster children, children you are the guardian for, and the like.
Adult dependents. If you provide at least 50% of the support for an adult (such as a parent, grandparent, or adult child) list that person as a dependent on Schedule I.
As mentioned above, your spouse is not considered to be a dependent for purposes of Schedule J.
In addition, some adults may live with you, but are not dependents. For example, if your adult child lives with you but you don’t provide for his or her support, that child is not a dependent. Similarly, roommates and boarders are not dependents for Schedule J purposes.
(To learn about the other forms you must complete in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)
This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to ensure you make well informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.