Are Both Spouses Responsible For The Debts Of The Marriage?
California is a community property state, which means that property acquired by either spouse is generally presumed to be jointly owned and subject to equal division. While this is supposed to apply to debts as well, dividing debt can be more complex.
At Law Office of David P. Schwarz, our attorneys have been helping clients with complex property and debt division issues for more than 20 years. After reading through the information on this page, feel free to contact us with your own debt division concerns and questions.
What The Law Says About Property Division
Under California Law, there must be an equal division of all debts incurred during the marriage at the time of trial. The converse holds true as well that all residual assets awarded to each spouse after deduction of community obligations must be divided equally.
However, as discussed below, the equal division of community property general rule is subject to special exceptions and well-established case law which seeks to make equity and fairness a major part of the division of assets. That way, no party is left with more debt than the other if they are not able to pay it back.
Special Exceptions And Considerations
One of the things we can help protect you from is the misallocation of community debts. These debts, for which the community estate is liable, are divided up at the time of trial. However, they do not have to be divided up equally.
We will make sure that all premarital debts, which are debts incurred before marriage, are paid by the party who incurred the debt prior to marriage. We will further make sure that the community does not pay for any premarital debt.
Our attorneys can also protect you from marital pre-separation debts. These debts are incurred during the marriage but prior to separation. They usually are divided equally among the parties. However, there are a few exceptions, such as a spouse who deliberately spends money without the other spouse’s consent.
Other debts such as post-separation (or pre-dissolution) debts, which are incurred after separation but before entry of judgment of dissolution or legal separation, shall be divided according to whether it was a necessity of life or not a necessity of life.
Learn More During An Initial Consultation
At the Law Office of David P. Schwarz, we will work tirelessly to protect you from any inappropriate division of community or separate property debt accumulated during your marriage. To discuss your case with a skilled and experienced attorney, call our office at 949-296-4119 or send us an email.