responsible for spouses's debts?

If you marry someone, are you then responsible for their outstanding debts?
I have some.
If I marry, can they go after my spouse?

Generally, no. However, if a creditor gets a judgment against her, he can go after assets you hold jointly with her. (There are limits on this, and an easy way to avoid it in the case of real estate - you simply take title as tenants by the entireties, rather than as joint tenants.)

If she incurs additional debt after marriage, you could be held responsible under the Family Expense Act, if the debt arose out of the purchase of and item or service which benefitted the family as a whole. That wouldn’t apply to pre-marital debts, though

Random, thankie.
I, however, am the female.
I have an old debt of when I was evicted. I hold no assets or job for that matter.
So your saying, don’t sign up for anything jointly?

Somehow, my disclaimer got lost there.
Here goes:

I am an attorney, but not your attorney. Nothing in the above post is meant to constitute legal advice that you should rely on without consulting an attorney in your jurisdiction. My statements in the above post are based upon Illinois law.

That would be a good idea. How old is the debt? Was a judgment taken against you? (Debts are subject to statutes of limitation (time limits to sue), which vary from state to state. (Written contract S/L in Illinois is 10 years, oral contract 5 years.) Even judgments expire, but generally the time you have to wait is very long. (With renewals, 20 years in Illinois.)

Vanilla I hope you mind me tagging on here :slight_smile:

This is something that has also been on my mind lately.

If I were to file bankruptcy and then get married in six months, how would this affect my spouse’s credit? Would she be able to get credit based on her previous (good) record, or would they see a bankruptcy in “the family”? What if I earn all the income?

This is why if I did crossword puzzles, I wouldn’t do them in ink.

I meant I hope you *don’t[/] mind :slight_smile:

This is why if I did crossword puzzles, I wouldn’t do them in ink.

I meant I hope you *don’t[/] mind :slight_smile:

Random, you are an attorney, but unless Illinois has changed its law within the last 16 years, it does not recognize tenancy by the entirety. It does recognize tenants in common. So if you hold property with your spouse as “tenants in common” his or her debts do not attach to yours. However, a judgment creditor against your spouse may result in levy and execution thereof, unless the propery is exempt from levy (and homesteads are). If that be the case, the creditor can force a partition of the property to satisfy the debt, resulting in the sale of the property. You will get your equity in it, but you will lose the property.

When I got married I had an old student loan I had defaulted on. On our first tax year together they took ALL of our tax return and threatened to take some of my husbands monthly wages if I didn’t start paying. At the time I was fighting with the California Student Aid Commission about my student loan (long story) which is why I defaulted. California is a community property state, so whatever is yours is his and vice versa here.

The solution is… don’t get married.

With respect to tenancy by the entireties, it is new in Illinois within the last sixteen years. In the same time period, Ohio has stopped allowing married couples to put property into tenancy by the entireties. The point is that, as usual, this is a state specific question.

But credit reporting is governed by federal law, the Fair Credit and Reporting Act (IIRC) being the most important source. One of the ideas behind this act was that it would give a person some protection from having his or her credit ruined by acts of a spouse acting alone. I’m not going to give you an opinion as to whether this would require your debts to be kept off your (future) husband’s credit report, but I will give you my impression that the erroneous reporting of one spouse’s debt as a join debt is a pretty common problem on credit reports, and might argue against your changing your last name to your husband’s when you marry.

I’m really surprised that Illinois has adopted tenancy by the entirety, since IIRC it is very similar to joint tenancy. Please explain this form of ownership to me (again, as I’ve forgot it). But, as I said, I remember it being very similar to IJT. And in joint tenancy, an execution and levy on property owned by a joint tenant would sever the joint tenancy, so it really doesn’t make any difference how the property is held. After the levy, it will be as tenants in common, except in those states, such as Cal., which has community property.


IIANL, but the following (from )
is essentially what my lawyer said when we bought our house

I think this means while a judgement against a joint tenant would sever the joint tenancy, it wouldn’t end a tenancy by the entirey.

Thanks, ** Doreen**. BTW, a judgment would not in and of itself sever the JT, but an execution and levy on it would. The case, which I haven’t looked up, states that one party cannot encumber his or her share in tenancy by the entirety. That indicates a voluntary encumbrance. I wonder about a judgment. I really doubt that a creditor would be prohibited from obtaining a judgment and levying on it merely because of the form of ownership. However, I could be wrong.

I looked up the case, but it did not settle the issue. However, an Illinois case based on the 1990 statute that created tenacy by the entirety does, 735 IL Cs 5/12/-112:

Note that tenancy by the entirety applies only to spouses and only to homestead property.