Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.
“Can a one spouse be held liable for the other spouse’s debts?”
Question: Maybe. A marriage is a legal partnership where rights and responsibilities often intertwine (I know, how romantic). If the debt is incurred during the marriage in a community property state (like California), then that debt would be a debt owed by the community – both you and your spouse. Upon dissolution of marriage in an equitable distribution state, it may be possible that the entire debt would go to the spouse incurred the debt. Additionally, also in dissolution, if the debt was incurred in some way that violated one spouse’s fiduciary duty to the other, there may be an argument to confirm that debt to one spouse. Even if the debt was incurred before marriage and that debt is a separate property debt, it may feel like it is owed by both of you if your spouse is getting sued. However, if it is a separate debt, then the creditor may not be able to get to the other spouse’s separate assets to satisfy it.