Who is responsible for my spouse’s debt after separation?
Written by Brenden Kennedy

Who is responsible for my spouse’s debt after separation?

One of the many issues that need to be addressed during a separation and divorce is what happens to marital assets and debts. For example, who keeps the house? Should you sell it, pay off the mortgage and divide the profit? What about your vehicle loans? Have you considered who is responsible for your spouse’s debt after separation?

Community Property State

Arizona is a community property state. This means even if you are unaware of debt your spouse incurred, you may still be liable. In a community property state, spouses equitably share assets as well as debts, often leaving both spouses responsible for some or all of these debts. This can happen even if you didn’t sign a credit agreement. It can be complicated to divide debt during a separation and divorce.

Spouse’s Debt After Separation

During the time between the decision to divorce and the finalization of the divorce, married couples must prepare to divide assets. However, another important category to consider is marital debt. A few debt-related situations may arise during the separation period, for example:

  1. Your spouse owned a rental property before the marriage. During the marriage, the property is used as collateral to secure a loan for your home. After separating, you do not want responsibility for the rental property loan. Will creditors seek payment from both of you?
  2. Your spouse went back to grad school a few years into your marriage. They racked up a significant amount of student loans. You did not sign the loan paperwork. Payments continue to come from your joint checking account. Are you responsible for the student loan debt?
  3. During your marriage, you bought an SUV with both of your names on the title. It’s the kid-hauler and your soon-to-be-ex drives it all the time. You’ve closed your joint checking accounts and no longer have access to the vehicle. Who is responsible for the payments?
  4. As soon as you separate, your soon-to-be-ex buys a sports car. You’re still married. Is the huge car payment a part of your marital debt?

Collaborative divorce can fit any family’s situation when both spouses are willing to respectfully work together. You can meet with professionals to decide outcomes that work well for each of you, separately and as a family.

Arizona Collaborative Divorce

Separation is the time you begin to emotionally and physically distance yourself from the marriage. Every separation and divorce is unique. Spouses bring different assets and debts to the marriage, just like they accumulate different assets and debts during the marriage.

During a collaborative divorce, you can use professionals to help with more complex situations. This may include legal, communication or financial issues. The goal of this type of divorce is to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices to learn more about handling your spouse’s debt after separation.