A married person can file bankruptcy without their spouse.  If a person files bankruptcy individually, it will not negatively affect their spouse or their spouse’s credit.  However, if there are joint debts, the filing spouse’s liability for the debt will be eliminated, but the non-filing spouse can still be held liable for the debt and may be pursued by creditors.  In that case, the non-filing spouse’s credit may be affected.  If there are joint debts, it probably would be beneficial to file a joint bankruptcy so both parties’ liability for the debt is eliminated.  In that case, any debt in joint names or any debt in each party’s individual names would be discharged through the bankruptcy.
If a person’s spouse only has debt that is not able to be discharged, such as student loans, certain taxes, alimony, child support, etc., or secured debts they are current on and wish to keep, they can continue to make those payments without needing to file bankruptcy.  They do not need to file jointly just because they are on certain secured debts together.  Secured debts are those that are protected by collateral, such as a house or a car.  For instance, if both spouses’ names are on a car loan or a mortgage and the loan or mortgage is current and the property is going to be retained, both spouses do not need to file just because their name is on the property jointly.  However, if both spouses do not file, and the loan or mortgage becomes delinquent, or the property is foreclosed or repossessed, the non-filing spouse would then be responsible for the deficiency.
Additionally, if a person files without their spouse, their spouse would not be included in the bankruptcy, but their income would be included for purposes of determining median income as long as the married couple is living together.  That is based on the assumption that if a married couple is living in the same house, they are sharing income and expenses. 
If you have any questions regarding this material or bankruptcy in general and would like to meet with a St. Louis or St. Charles bankruptcy attorney, please contact us at 636-916-5400.