Can my wife be sued for a school loan she made before we were married if she does not work and can I be held liable?

UPDATED: Aug 24, 2011

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Can my wife be sued for a school loan she made before we were married if she does not work and can I be held liable?

My wife and I married 18 months ago and she has not worked since. Everything is in my name but she does have credit cards on my credit accounts. The trade school kept calling and I finally spoke with them about 14 months ago and was told if we paid $250 they would write the loan off. I did this, however they have not stopped calling. They have turned it over to a collection agency. Can my wife be sued and can I be held liable even if this debt was made before we were married? We live in TN but my wife lived in AL when this was debt was incurred.

Asked on August 24, 2011 Tennessee


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In most states the obligations of a person that were incurred before a marriage is that person's separate obligation and not the debt of the marital community. However, in the event of a lawsuit and possible judgment for a pre-marriage debt, the assets of the community may be subject to one-half of liability of the judgment representing the interests of the one spouse who was obligated on the debt.

Potentially your wife can be sued for this claimed debt. You cannot be held liable personally for this debt of your wife incurred before you were married to her.

You should try and find all records of the $250.00 payment made to the trade school thinking if it was made the balance of the debt would be written off. Specifically, did you write on any payment check "paid in full?" Was there any correspondence sent with the $250.00 payment stating that the debt was now paid in full? If you did, you will be in a better position to defend the claim by the collection agency for the money owed. Hopefully you wrote down the name of the person who advised you that payment of the $250.00 would pay the debt in full as well as his or her telephone number.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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