Am I Liable for My Spouse’s Old Credit Card Debt?

As much as no one wants to think about their marriage coming to an end, the reality is that divorce rates are still high in the U.S. Although unfortunate, if your marriage has ended in divorce, you’ll need to become as savvy as possible when it comes to money matters so that the divorce is indeed the worst of your problems.

The same is true if and when you remarry. These days, many couples attribute their happiness in second marriages to having made many mistakes (and learned from them) in their first marriage. While it’s wonderful that so many people are able to move on to find satisfaction with a new spouse, if one or both of you has been married before, there could very well be a significant financial mess hot on your tail.

For example, if your new spouse left his/her first marriage with a significant amount of debt, s/he’ll be bringing that debt right along into your new marriage. This can be frustrating for many couples who feel like they’ve gotten a chance to ‘start over’ romantically. The financial strain can begin to stress both new spouses, so it’s a really good idea to know what you’re up against before it has a chance to damage your relationship.

Luckily, for those new couples who reside in New Jersey, this is an equitable distribution state, which means that both assets and liabilities will be divided fairly between two parties when they divorce. New Jersey is not a community property state.

What is a community property state?

In a community property state, any debts that either spouse owes are considered to be owed by the couple, as a whole. Therefore, if you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) and your new spouse had incurred a lot of….let’s say credit card debt while s/he was previously married – you may inherit the responsibility for that debt as soon as you say, “I do.”

If a debt collection company in New Jersey is attempting to squeeze money out of you for a debt that your spouse alone is responsible for – you now know that you are not required to participate in the repayment of said debt.

Naturally, debt collection companies often take great liberties when it comes to interpreting community property law. Many companies are operating with unscrupulous behaviors with very few concerns other than how much of your money they can get their hands on.

That’s why it’s crucial that you know your rights regarding your spouse’s credit card debt that was acquired before you were married. After all, you didn’t even know your spouse when the debts were incurred. You did not sign your name for said debts, nor did you benefit in any way from them. YOU ARE NOT LIABLE.

Even if your spouse is involved in a lawsuit for money owed and you have been named in the lawsuit, as long as the debts in question were incurred before you were married and you reside in a non-community property state, your dismissal from the suit will be possible.

As every case is unique, the best way to be sure if you are liable for your new spouse’s old debts is to find a debt relief attorney in New Jersey who will offer you a free consultation.

Image credit: Keirsten Marie

One Response to Am I Liable for My Spouse’s Old Credit Card Debt?

  1. Pingback: My Husband Never Listed Me on his Life Insurance Policy! | Veitengruber Law

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