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What Liability Do Your Have for Your Spouse’s Debt?

If you are getting married and plan on having joint bank accounts and finances, you should be aware of the liability you have for debt and other expenses. The biggest factor in determining your liability for debts is when those debts were incurred.

Debts incurred before your marriage

In most cases, any debt a person has before marriage is his or her sole legal responsibility. If your husband purchased a motor vehicle before you were married and defaults on the loan, the lender cannot come after you or your assets.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. If debts were commingled after marriage, they might fall under the category of marital debt. An example would be if an individual had a credit card before the marriage and then added his wife to the card after the marriage. Any debt on that account could be considered marital debt, which means the lender could go after either spouse for repayment. Additionally, any credit hits would affect both spouses’ credit scores.

There’s nothing to stop one spouse from helping another spouse pay off his or her debts — this happens all the time in marriage. However, if the debt was incurred before the marriage, only one of the two spouses would be liable for it.

Debts incurred during marriage

In most cases, debts incurred during marriage are treated like property purchased or obtained during marriage. Both spouses share the debt, which means they have equal responsibility for repayment. If you get divorced, your debts would be subject to an equitable distribution, just like what happens with your assets and property.

For more information on your responsibility for certain types of debt when dissolving your marriage, contact a skilled Minnesota divorce lawyer with Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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