Can a debt incurred before marriage become community property debt?

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Can a debt incurred before marriage become community property debt?

I lent a friend $3000. She has since gotten married and has made a couple of payments using a joint checking account with her new husband. Can I now also sue the husband for the remaining debt?

Asked on December 16, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Arizona

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

AZ is a community property state.  And in community property states, most debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are owed by the "community" i.e. (the couple) even if only 1 spouse signed the paperwork for a debt.  However, if a spouse incurrs a debt prior to marriage, it won't automatically become a joint debt; it remains separate debt. Therefore, in your case, your friend's husband cannot be held responsivle for repayment. 

Note:  In order to collect on such a debt, a creditor can only go after the responsible spouse's half of the community property to repay the debt. 


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