Who is Responsible for Debts?

One of the most recurring question I am asked  from people considering divorce is:" Am I responsible for my spouse's debts and liabilitie?"     Most recently, i  answered that very question, on Linked In.

Question- I'm about to break up with my wife. While we are separated I do not want to be responsible for debts she may incur. Will I be responsible for her debts?

Answer - You are really asking two distinct questions about debts. The first questions how debts will apportioned between you and your spouse as part of a divorce; the second question asks what is your responsibility for debts to your creditors.

All property acquired during the marriage may be equitably distributed. That means, both the assets and liabilities will be equitably divided between you and you wife. If your wife ran up credit card debt in anticipation of the divorce or wasted marital assets, that will addressed in the distribution of the remaining marital property.

Whatever agreement you and your wife reach about the responsibility for the marital debts, it is not binding on your creditors. Regardless of how you and your wife apportion the debts, your creditors can enforce their contracts against whoever is principally liable. If the obligation is in joint names, the creditor can attempt to collect from either or both of you.

So, for instance, if you have a joint credit card or your wife runs up debt on your charge card, even if your wife agrees to pay the debt for you, the credit card issuer could look to you to make payments.

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