If I own a home, can I be held liable for my wife’s pre-marital debts?

Specifically, school loans and credit card debt. I purchased this home 4 months before I got married and am now worried being about being sued for my wife’s debt. We live in a community property state.

Asked on September 7, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, one spouse is not liable for the debts of another spouse that were incurred before they were married in Texas.  So you would be liable for the mortgage on the house and she would be liable for the student loans and credit card debts she incurred.  This seems like a simple principle... but it tends to get complicated when things get co-mingled during the marriage.  For example, if the credit card debt increases during the marriage, then you could be liable for the part that represents the increase in debt.  If she develops a real interest in the house (like you put her name on the deed, she pays for improvements on the home) then a creditor could argue that she has made financial contributions to the home, and to the extent that she has accrued an interest, they will assert and interest in her share.  If you share a bank account together and you both contribute funds, then the co-mingling could expose your funds to being scooped by creditors.  If she's in financial trouble, you should both work to keep your accounts and financial activities as seperate as possible until the financial crisis has passed or resolved itself.  If necessary, she can file for bankruptcy without you as a party to resolve the credit card debt and make it easier for her to pay on the student loans.


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