Can a creditor come after me for a lease that my exhusband incurred without my knowledge while we were married?

UPDATED: May 27, 2009

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Can a creditor come after me for a lease that my exhusband incurred without my knowledge while we were married?

My husband leased an apartment while he was still living with me (from 2003 to 2004 we were divorced 1/2005). He was evicted and has been served a judgement. Fees are being assessed and a creditor located me wanting information to help them collect (he is not working, it is not likely they will be successful). She indicated that AZ is a community property state. Can I be held responsible for a lease I had no knowledge of that occured over 5 years ago?

Asked on May 27, 2009 under Family Law, Arizona


J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

I am a lawyer in CT that practices in this area. 

As a general proposition of Arizona law, either husband or wife has the statutory authority to incur debts for the benefit of the community. Wife may purchase a new Mercedes under her signature and without her husband's knowledge, and the payments for that Mercedes are the liability of the community composed of the husband and wife.

Arizona, by statute, recognizes two significant exceptions to the statutory authority of either spouse to bind the community: first, liabilities under personal guaranties and, second, most real estate transactions. Arizona statutes exempt (with a few exceptions) any transaction for the acquisition, disposition, or encumbrance of an interest in real property and any transaction of guaranty, indemnity or suretyship.

Therefore, your situation is analogous to the car example and you may therefore be liable if the lease was for your benefit too.  I would talk to a lawyer in your area and not respond to the collection calls unless a suit is filed.

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.

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