Am I responsible for my new wife’s prior debts. In her last marriage her Ex husband was supposed to sell their home.

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Am I responsible for my new wife’s prior debts. In her last marriage her Ex husband was supposed to sell their home.

In her last marriage her Ex husband was supposed to sell their home. Instead it was foreclosed on. She is afraid that if she takes my sir name that I’m responsible for her debt.

Asked on December 5, 2016 under Family Law, Missouri

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Creditors can try to garnish, levy or otherwise seize your wife's assets (i.e. paycheck, bank account, etc.). However, so long as you keep your assets in your separate names, that is you do not own anything jointly, then your assets should be safe from the claims of your wife's creditors (somteimes in community property states a spouse can be held liable for the other spouse's debt but MO is not a community property state). This is not to say, however, that a creditor may mistakenly try to collect from you but the chances are not high. Note: You should keep your credit separate from hers as her past due debts will lower your credit score.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You are not directly resonsible for her pre-marriage (to you) debts. That said, there are significant problems you could face:
1) Creditors (like the bank) may mistakenly try to get the money from you, forcing you to spend time, effort, and possibly money (if you hire an attorney) defending yourself.
2) Creditors can reach your wife's share of joint or marital property, like her interest in real estate the two of you buy jointly, or her share of a joint bank account.
3) If you are anticipating any large transactions, like buying a house, leasing an apartment, financing or leasing a car, etc. be warned that the lessor or seller will typically check *both* your and her credit, and so a judgment against her can hurt you joint creditworthiness as a couple.


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