In California and other community property states, married couples may have both community property and community debts. If one spouse files bankruptcy but the other does not, the filing spouse can obtain a discharge of all community debts, including those incurred by the non-filing spouse.
For example, if you file bankruptcy and your spouse does not, you can obtain a discharge of debts incurred by both you and your spouse during your marriage. Your spouse does not have to file bankruptcy; therefore his or her separate property is not at risk. As a non-filer, your spouse would not have a bankruptcy filing on his or her credit report. If you and your spouse incur excessive community debt in the future, your spouse would be eligible to file bankruptcy without waiting for eight years from the date of your filing.
While some creditors attempt to ignore the rights of non-filing debtors under California community property laws, your attorney can protect your rights by sending a letter to the creditor.