When an individual is financially underwater, they might explore bankruptcy as an option. However, when that individual is married, the question about whether or not to declare bankruptcy becomes more complicated. While they can and often do, spouses are not required to file for bankruptcy jointly.
Generally, bankruptcy will allow a person, business, or married couple, to get out from under debt either by liquidating assets to discharge the debts, or structuring a repayment plan. However, because there are restrictions on qualifying for bankruptcy, it is not always a viable option for married couples. Sometimes, only one spouse may actually qualify. When only one spouse declares bankruptcy, the non-declaring spouse needs to be aware of the ramifications.