Determining Dependents For Bankruptcy Schedule J

Find out who counts as a "dependent" and must be listed on Schedule J of your bankruptcy forms.

Updated by , Attorney (Northwestern University School of Law)

When you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you must complete a set of schedules that list information about your assets, debts, expenses, income, and financial transactions. On Schedule J, you must provide information about your ongoing expenses. You must also provide information about your dependents. Below, we explain how to determine whether someone counts as a dependent who should be listed on the form.

Minor Dependents

Any minor children (those under the age of 18) for whom you pay at least 50% of the bills should be listed on the form. This includes your own children who live with you, your spouse's children who live with you, and either of your children who don't live with you all the time but for whom you pay at least half of their support.

This might also include children whom you are caring for (for example, if you have taken in a sibling's children while he or she is in prison or incapacitated), foster children, and so on.

When you list minor children on the form, don't state their names. Simply indicate their relationship to you (for example, "son," "step-daughter," or "niece") and their ages. The purpose of this rule is to protect their privacy, as your bankruptcy filing will be a public record.

Adult Dependents

You may have adult dependents as well. For example, if you provide at least 50% of the support for a parent or grandparent, or an adult relative (such as a child or sibling), you may list that person as your dependent as well. However, your spouse doesn't count as a dependent, regardless of your financial relationship. The bankruptcy forms provide space to list your spouse's income and expenses, so they will still be taken into account.

Adults Who Are Not Dependents

There may be adults who live with you but are not your dependents. For example, if your parents have allowed you to move back into their house while you get back on your financial feet, they are not your dependents. Similarly, if you have allowed an adult child to move back in with you, but your child pays his or her own way, the child is not your dependent. And, roommates or boarders who pay their fair share of the bills are not dependents for purposes of Schedule J.

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