Thursday, August 27, 2009

Debts and Marriage- Think You Are Liable for a Spouse's Debts?

I have no idea why people think that marriage automatically creates liability for the other spouse's debts.  I really like the article Is a Prenup Right for Me? until I reached this:

Third, if your fiance has a large amount of debt, you would not want to become legally liable for it. While this may sound cruel, we feel that we all need to accept responsibility for our choices in life.
I cannot imagine a premarital debt that creates liability post-marriage without a voluntary act by the other party.   But people still think the act of marriage by itself creates liability for debt.

There are plenty of reasons for the a prenuptial agreement (and the article has them) but this is not one of them.


Queen Christine said...

So say you have been married for 26 years and your partner has debt in thier name only... am I responsible?

Queen Christine said...

What about student loans if one spouse goes to school... consuladates debt into a student loan while married... is other spouse partially responsible?

Queen Christine said...

I have heard stories baout women charging up their husbands credit cards then divorcing them.. what if you are joint card holders?

Sam Hasler said...

Queen Christine had some good questions that I thought were addressed in the original post. Joint debt means that both parties are contractually obligated for the debt. That changes the scenario presented in the original post.

Contract law controls the issue of who is responsible to a creditor - unless there is an order from a divorce court. Even then that Order does not mean that the creditor must obey that Order.

Just as one party may be ordered to keep another harmless on a debt, if one were to run up a credit card debt the court could order that party responsible for that debt.