A legal marriage combines the lives of two separate people. When one spouse acquires ownership of a new property, both spouses are typically legal owners. This may also mean that for any debt that one spouse occurs, the other spouse is also responsible for paying. Whether or not you’re liable for your spouse’s debts depends on many factors.
The Type of Debt
The type of debt affects whether a spouse is responsible for payments or not. Credit card debt is usually only owed by the person who opened the credit card. This means that even if your spouse opens a credit card while you’re legally married but never adds you as a user to the account, you shouldn’t be liable for their charges. Most spouses typically co-sign a mortgage. This means that both spouses are responsible for the debt.
The Timeline of Debt
The timeline of debt, including if it was acquired before or after marriage, also affects liability in marriage. Student loan debt is usually accrued before marriage. If one spouse takes out student loans before they’re married, the other spouse won’t be responsible for the debt. Even if a spouse takes out a student loan when married, the other spouse should only be liable for the debt if they co-sign on the loan.
Other common types of debt that couples may deal with include auto or furniture loans. These types of loans don’t typically affect both spouses unless both sign the loan.
Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreements
Pre or post-nuptial agreements can also influence liability when it comes to debt. If a pre or post-nuptial agreement includes assets or property, the other spouse won’t be liable for the debt incurred on them.
How Community Law Affects Liability
Community law can affect liability when it comes to debt. Some states follow community laws, which means that any debt incurred by either spouse during the marriage is the responsibility of the community or both spouses. This applies even if only one spouse signed the loan. However, keep in mind that New Jersey is not a community property state.
This means that marital property ownership is not automatically equal. Instead, New Jersey uses an equitable distribution method. The court reviews the debt details, including who signed the loan and who owns the property. They use this information to then divide the property based on fairness.
Considering Divorce in New Jersey?
New Jersey aims to divide assets among spouses rather than splitting them evenly. This requires more in-depth research and investigation into who owes what, but it can lead to an outcome that’s fair for both spouses. If you’re considering divorce in New Jersey, and either you or both of you have a lot of debt, it may be worth it to reach out to a divorce lawyer. You need and deserve a lawyer on your side that protects your best interests. If your soon-to-be ex-spouse incurred a lot of debt unrelated to you, then it’s only right they keep that debt. You shouldn’t have to make payments on an item you never wanted and no longer own.
Contact a Mount Laurel Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce in New Jersey Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter, such as child custody, child support, or division of assets, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The New Jersey family law attorneys at Cordry Harman, LLC represent clients throughout the state, including Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Voorhees, and Delran. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests and the interests of your loved ones throughout the legal process. Call us at 856-452-4474or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 505 S Lenola Rd Ste 224 Moorestown, NJ 08057.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.