Am I responsible for debts incurred prior to marriage that are not in my name?

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Am I responsible for debts incurred prior to marriage that are not in my name?

My and my spouse are divorcing. We do not have assets such as property, vehicles or investments. We we’re only married a total of 10 months. We both are currently employed. She filed for the divorce. 15-20K in debt -credit cards that were maxed out and a loan that was taken out before marriage. I was not associated with those debts by name, however, money spent with those debts were caused by both of us when dating.

Asked on September 26, 2011 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for contacting our site with your question.  While you are currently in the process of obtaining a divorce, your debt situation may not fall into the typical legal category of separating assets during a divorce.  Normally, if you occur a debt during a marriage then you may be responsible for that debt should the marriage dissolve.  Depending on the state in which you reside, you may responsible for half of the debt or what the state deems is just for the party whom is best suited for bearing the responsibility of repaying the debt. 

 

However, your situation is different than a married couple that acquired debt during a marriage.  Your debt was acquired prior to your marriage.  Typically the length of your marriage would be completely irrelevant as this debt would be treated the same way as if you had never been married at all.  For instance, if your friend had a credit card and made purchases on their credit card for you, and then you never paid them back, you would still owe them the money.  The burden of proof is on the cardholder to show that purchases were made for your joint interest and that you agreed to share in the payment of the credit card debt.  While the credit card company could not seek payment from you since your name is not on the card, your spouse/ex-spouse could file a civil matter for the money that was needed to pay the credit card bills.  This can be handled completely separate from any divorce proceedings and if under $5,000.00, could be handled in small claims court. 


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