There are several confusing, complicated, and frustrating aspects of any divorce. Figuring out who is responsible for paying off a certain debt is one of these. The state of California is considered a community property state. Generally, this means that any debt incurred during the marriage officially belongs to both people; however, it isn’t always that simple.
Hiring professional bankruptcy attorneys who can help you better understand your options is a good idea. However, some other information about these situations can be found here. Understanding what to expect and what you are legally responsible for is essential to know what to expect during and after your divorce case.
Property Acquired During a Marriage is Considered Community Property
While there are a few exceptions to this rule, any property, benefits, or wages acquired during a marriage are classified as community property (this means you both own them). This includes debts. However, what each person brings to the marriage remains their own property. Also, any inheritance or gift that is received during the marriage is considered the separate property of the person who received it.
Your Wages May be Garnished to Cover Your Spouse’s Debts
If your spouse owes month they don’t pay; a creditor can legally garnish your wages to pay them. This would be the case even if your spouse had these debts before you got married. Unlike other property, the debt that each person brings to the marriage is collectively owned – in most situations.
There is an exception to this. If you have a separate bank account, they don’t have access to, then all premarital debts belonging to your spouse can’t be garnished from that account. It is smart to discuss this with your accountant to determine the best way to protect your cash.
You Come to an Alternative Agreement with Your Spouse
If you have a pre- or post-nuptial agreement that mentions your debt situation, this is what will be followed. You and your spouse may also come to an understanding separately. It is best to get this in writing and make sure it is included in your divorce decree. If you don’t do this, the other person may change their mind, leaving you responsible for their debts.
If you are unable to come to an agreement like this, but you want to avoid being held responsible for your spouse’s debts, you need to speak with an attorney. Sometimes, you can use mediation to decide on an agreeable outcome; however, taking some action is better than none.
If You Are Facing High Amounts of Debt Consider Bankruptcy
While this depends on your situation, in some cases, bankruptcy is the smartest way for you to move forward and get from under your debt. If you are interested in learning more about bankruptcy and how it may help your debt situation, contact a bankruptcy attorney. They can evaluate your situation and help you decide the best avenue.