If my girlfriend wants to take my last name as we are “life partners” but legally married, are there any liabilities to me if she does that?

We live in CO.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding your potential liability for your life partner.  Your situation will not be treated any differently since you are life partners, then if you were any other type of couple.  If your state legally recognizes your marriage, then you will be held under the same laws and responsibilities as all other married couples.  Additionally, if a married person decides to take their spouses last name, it will not be treated any differently than if the spouse did not change their last name.  The legal contract of marriage will bind you two together.  It is this legal contract that could hold you responsible for your partner’s liability.

For instance, if your partner takes out a credit card while you are married, and then does not make any payments to the credit card, and your partner goes into collection, your credit will also be affected.  The credit card debt would be seen as joint debt.  The money could have been spent on items for your mutual benefit, and that is why a credit card company would hold you both accountable.

You may have heard that a lot of people get divorced over a disagreement about finances.  Well, this is usually because the debt of one spouse becomes the debt of the other spouse.  There are circumstances in which you can protect yourself from your spouse’s debt, but you need to be very specific as to how your property is titled, and usually this only applies to real property and not personal property.  If you need further assistance on this matter, you may want to contact a family law attorney in your area to guide you with the particular laws of your state.

 


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