Are you responsible for your spouse’s debts in a divorce?

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Divorce

When starting the divorce process, couples primarily consider how to divide their assets. However, they must also address how the law determines who is responsible for debts. This process can be remarkably complicated depending on the couple’s financial situation. Debt types and amounts also contribute to the complexity of the case. 

California is a community property state, meaning the couple, or “community,” owns all assets and financial obligations obtained during the marriage. This law applies even if only one spouse incurred and signed for the debt. Individuals going through a divorce may incorrectly assume the person who acquired the debt is solely responsible for paying it back. This assumption can be an expensive error, especially in instances where debts are unknown to one spouse. 

What is financial infidelity?

This term refers to the intentional act of hiding assets, secretly spending money, incurring debts or opening hidden financial accounts during the marriage. According to a study by, people with the highest income levels are more likely to keep hidden finances than those with lower earnings. 

How does financial infidelity affect the divorce process?

Financial infidelity in a marriage creates a complex divorce process. Community property states that each partner owns half of the assets and half of the debts. Suppose the financial disclosure portion of a divorce reveals that one spouse has accumulated devastating amounts of debt previously unknown to the other. This circumstance presents additional challenges for the case, as both parties are still financially responsible for the obligations. An experienced lawyer can help navigate these problems. 

One of the goals of a successful divorce is protecting the futures of the parties involved. Financial complications affecting the division of property in a divorce require skilled strategies to avoid potentially disastrous consequences.