Am I liable for my wifes debt in her name?

Get Legal Help Today

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Am I liable for my wifes debt in her name?

My wife is taking on personal loans I do not want her to, and if she defaults, I do not want to be responsible.

Asked on May 11, 2009 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

The basic question you need to ask is if your state considers such debts to be personal debts and if so, depending on a divorce situation, do the following apply:


1. Are these school loans -- some states say after so many years and her new career (reason for school loans), the marital property has been repayed this debt so you don't get a credit upon divorce.


2. If truly personal loan (just to have a loan to spend money), then it also depends on if your state considers personal debts made during a valid marriage your debt or her debt.  In New Jersey, it is an equal distribution state, which means marital property isn't necessarily split 50-50 but by what is fair.

In making an equitable distribution of property, the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following factors:

a.The duration of the marriage;

b.The age and physical and emotional health of the parties;

c.The income or property brought to the marriage by each party;

d.The standard of living established during the marriage;

e.Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;

f.The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property becomes effective;

g.The income and earning capacity of each party, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children, and the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;

h.The contribution by each party to the education, training or earning power of the other;

i.The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation, preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of the marital property, as well as the contribution of a party as a homemaker;

j.The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;

k.The present value of the property;

l.The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;

m.The debts and liabilities of the parties;

n.The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a spouse or children;

o.The extent to which a party deferred achieving their career goals; and

p.Any other factors which the court may deem relevant.   N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23 (h) and N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23.1

In every case, the court shall make specific findings of fact on the evidence relevant to all issues pertaining to asset eligibility or ineligibility, asset valuation, and equitable distribution, including specifically, but not limited to, the factors set forth in this section.

It shall be a rebuttable presumption that each party made a substantial financial or nonfinancial contribution to the acquisition of income and property while the party was married.



37:2-10.  Married woman's liability for debts contracted before or after marriage
    A husband shall not be liable for the debts of his wife contracted before their marriage, or contracted by her, in her own name, after their marriage, but she shall be liable to be sued separately therefor in her own name, and any  property belonging to her shall be liable to satisfy such debts, in the same  manner as if she were a feme sole.


37:2-16.  Contracts of married woman without joinder or consent of husband
    Any married woman shall have the right to bind herself by contract in the same manner and to the same extent as though she were unmarried, which contract  shall be legal and obligatory, and may be enforced by and against such married  woman in her own name and apart from her husband.  Any contract relating to or  affecting her estate, interest or right in her real property or that of her  husband shall be valid without the joinder therein or consent thereto of her  husband, but shall not affect any estate, interest or right of her husband in  such real estate.

     Amended by L.1953, c. 34, p. 602, s. 6, eff. March 19, 1953.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption