In case of a future legal separation, am I responsible for my husband’s current credit card debt?

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In case of a future legal separation, am I responsible for my husband’s current credit card debt?

Card is only in his name.

Asked on August 30, 2010 under Family Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

California is a community property state. In such states, most property you acquire during marriage is owned by your "community," which is controlled by you and your spouse. Your community property is liable for debts accrued by you or your spouse during the marriage (and this is true whether or not you are personally responsible for the debts.

As part of any divorce settlement, assets and debts will be divided between you and your soon-to-be ex-husband, and community property will cease to exist. Once the assets are separated, creditors who have claims against your ex-husband alone cannot seek to obtain your property or make a claim against you to repay his debts.

To the extent that you have marital debts, these debts will be assigned to you or your ex-husband. This assignment however, is only effective between you and your ex-husband; it does not change the creditor's rights to seek repayment from you in the event that you obligated yourself for repaymentwhen the debt was incurred (for example, if you co-signed for the debt).However, if your ex-husband fails to pay a debt that was assigned to him in the divorce and the creditor brings a lawsuit against you, you can bring your ex-husband into the lawsuit or seek an order from the divorce court. The terms of the divorce dictate that he is liable for this debt and, therefore, must indemnify (reimburse) you for any liabiltiy resulting from non-payment of the debt.

Note:  If your husband files bankruptcy after a divorce, under current bankruptcy laws, debts assigned in a divorce decree are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.


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