Is a spouse entitled to reimbursement for pre-marital debt that was paid off during the marriage?

UPDATED: Nov 21, 2011

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Is a spouse entitled to reimbursement for pre-marital debt that was paid off during the marriage?

My husband brought almost 50K of debt into this marriage, which since has been paid off. I am now planning to get divorced and would like to know if I am entitled to get back half back since we had a joint checking account?

Asked on November 21, 2011 under Family Law, Illinois


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you live in a community property state such as CA, community property is property acquired during marriage.  This includes debts, income, etc.  Each spouse has a one half interest in the community property.

Separate property is property acquired before marriage or after the marriage ends.  This includes debts, income, etc. The other spouse has no claim to the separate property.

Your husband's pre-marriage debt is his separate property.  The joint checking account during marriage is community property.  Community property funds from the joint checking account used to pay a separate property debt results in the community property being entitled to reimbursement.  Therefore, you would have a one half interest in the community property funds that were used to pay your husband's pre-marriage debt.  For example, if ten thousand from the joint checking account was used toward payment of your husband's separate property debt, you would have a claim for five thousand since each spouse has a one half interest in community property.  If the remaining forty thousand of the separate property debt was paid from a separate property source, you would not have any claim on separate property funds used to pay the separate property debt of your husband. 

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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