Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt When I Divorce?

While many people understand that most states divide marital assets between a divorcing couple, they might not know the court also includes debts in property division. California is an equitable distribution state, meaning it divides the couple’s assets and debts down the middle in a divorce settlement. Because of its laws, California courts will rule most debts one spouse incurs during the marriage is the responsibility of both spouses after a divorce.

However, not all debts qualify for this division. Only the debts that can count as community property can be divided during the divorce. This means all debts acquired during the course of the marriage are community debts, even if only one spouse signed the paperwork for the loan or deal. Any debts accrued outside of the marriage, however, are not considered joint debt, unless you commingled your assets and debts with your spouse after your marriage (such as if you added your spouse onto your account as a joint holder). Commingling your assets automatically makes it all community property.

After a divorce, your ex’s creditors are allowed to place liens on assets and the incomes of both of you to clear joint debts. A creditor can even sue you and hold you both liable for repayment. This allowance even holds true if your ex-spouse accrued a mountain of debt and then lost his or her job. Creditors might garnish your wages or place liens on your property until you pay off the debt.

If you’re concerned about the amount of debt your spouse owes during a divorce, talk to one of our skilled Newport Beach divorce attorneys about your situation as soon as possible. Burch, Coulston & Shepard, LLP has many years of experience helping Orange County couples through complicated divorce proceedings. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (949) 565-4158 or fill out our online form to schedule a free case consultation with us today.

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