If I re-marry, will my wife’s bankruptcy affect me?

UPDATED: Jan 17, 2011

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If I re-marry, will my wife’s bankruptcy affect me?

We are both widowed. She owes $270k on a house that she and her husband bought. She cannot afford the payments and will be filing bankruptcy. If we marry, can she file bankruptcy without affecting my credit (which is stellar)? If she doesn’t file, will I assume her debts?

Asked on January 17, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If your wife files after you are married, as long as you have separate credit, than her filing should not affect your credit in anyway.  In fact, if you have no joint accounts or joint assets, then her bankruptcy will not affect you at all.  However, unless you are living apart and are legally separated, in a situation where only one spouse files, the income and expenses of the non-filing spouse is required so that the court, the trustee and creditors can evaluate the household's income (note: this will in no way obligate you, either legally or financially).  But for this reason she may want to file now.  Additionally, enteing a marriage with clean finances is always a good idea, so your fiance should consider filing now.

Is she does not file for bankruptcy, you will not become liable for any pre-marital debt (unless you specifically agree to be); such debt does not attach to a non-debtor spouse.  However, that having been said, if your spouse's creditors sue, win, and are awarded judgements, any non-exempt joint assets that you share will be at risk.  So in that event, you'd be well-advised to keep your bank accounts and the like separate.Obviously, to the extent you have joint accounts, he will be affected.  The same holds true for any joint assets not exempted by law.


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