Are Both Parties Responsible for Debt in a Marriage?

When it comes to debt sharing in marriage, the laws change state by state. California is a community property state, meaning that any debt incurred while married is property of the couple. For example, if you buy a house or car during the marriage, even if only one of your names is on the title, the debt belongs to both of you.


What Are the Exceptions?


The key factor to a community property state is that the debt has to have been started while the couple was married. Consider some debts that do not need to be shared:


1. Student Loans Incurred Before Marriage: If one side of the couple has student debt from before the marriage, it belongs only to the student who took out the loans.


2. Incurred Debt that Is Not a Family Necessity: Typically, the person who incurs the debt is responsible for repaying it if it wasn’t a family need. Some examples of a family necessity include a mortgage, loan for a new roof, or medical bills of a child.


How Do You Keep Debts and Assets Separate in Marriage?


There are ways that you can keep your assets separate in a marriage. Documents can be arranged before or during marriage to protect the individual finances of each party:


· Prenuptial Agreement: When one part of the couple enters the marriage with significantly higher assets or debt than the other, a prenup is used to keep those finances separate throughout the marriage. The prenuptial agreement is signed before the wedding.


· Postnuptial Agreement: The main difference between a prenup and a postnuptial agreement is the postnuptial is signed after the couple gets married. Suppose practicality becomes more apparent a few years into the marriage. In that case, the couple can decide on the division of assets and how long one would receive spousal support if divorce occurs.


Our team at Miles & Hatcher, LLP, wants to help you with any questions regarding married rights and potential divorce. When you discover our vast experience with family law, you can find peace in knowing we can help you through a divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling (909) 481-4080.

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