If I have a judgement against me for an unpaid debt, can my husband be affected by this even though it happened before we were married?

UPDATED: Aug 23, 2011

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If I have a judgement against me for an unpaid debt, can my husband be affected by this even though it happened before we were married?

I received a judgement against me 4 years ago, which I tried to fight and which they are still trying to collect on. I was just married last year and now I worry that the judgement can be passed on to my husband. Right now our finances and assets are all separate. Can they still come after him? Also, do judgements ever go away? Is there a statute of limitations in which they have to collect?.

Asked on August 23, 2011 California


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The law varies depending on whether you live in a community property state or a state that follows equitable distribution. CA is a community property state. The general rule is that community property is liable to pay a debt either spouse incurs before marriage and during marriage, regardless which spouse controls that property. So, yes your husband can be held liable for your pre-marital debt.

Regarding the debt, there is a statue of limitations as the just how long a creditor has to sue for a judgement. Here, your creditor has already sued you. However, judgments are only good for a limited period of time, although in some states they can be renewed at least once. In CA, judgments are enforceable for 10 years, renewable for another 10 years, and are then renewable after that. Once a judgment's been renewed, it can't be renewed again until 5 years later.

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