Will marrying my boyfriend cause me to owe on his debts?

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Will marrying my boyfriend cause me to owe on his debts?

My boyfriend owes a considerable amount of money in restitution for a crime he committed a year ago. We have been tossing around the idea of marriage but are afraid that I will inherit his debt. If we marry can they garnish my wages for his debt? Can they take my tax refunds if we file married but separate? Will I be responsible for his debt in any way? I don’t mind helping him pay, I just want to be sure the government won’t come after me. He pays the money directly to the state of OR.

Asked on July 29, 2011 Oregon

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are concerned about being obligated for your boyfriend's pre-existing debts if you marry him, you should probably consult with a family law lawyer about the laws in your state about community debts.

You personally would not be responsible for his debt if you marry him since you were not married to him when the debt arose and you personally are not obligated on the debt.

In most states where community property laws are in effect, each spouse owns one half of the community's assets and obligations incurred during the marriage. Your one-half interest in the community estate if you marry your boyfriend would not be subject to any levy or obligation of the existing debt of your boyfriend. Likewise, your separate property would not be subject to levy on the debt. However, his one-half interest in the community's assets would be subject to the debt as well as his own personal assets. 

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you are concerned about being obligated for your boyfriend's pre-existing debts if you marry him, you should probably consult with a family law lawyer about the laws in your state about community debts.

You personally would not be responsible for his debt if you marry him since you were not married to him when the debt arose and you personally are not obligated on the debt.

In most states where community property laws are in effect, each spouse owns one half of the community's assets and obligations incurred during the marriage. Your one-half interest in the community estate if you marry your boyfriend would not be subject to any levy or obligation of the existing debt of your boyfriend. Likewise, your separate property would not be subject to levy on the debt. However, his one-half interest in the community's assets would be subject to the debt as well as his own personal assets. 


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