Separate Property Liability of a Spouse During Marriage

At the Orange County Law Office of David P Schwarz we have handled numerous divorce cases involving the liability of a spouse's separate property. Please contact our office at 949 735 9266 or via email for a consultation. We can also be reached via the web or email at

A Spouse’s separate property of a spouse is of course liable for his or her own debts incurred before or during marriage. This is the basic general rule for a spouse going through a divorce.

A separate property lawyer will argue that Ordinarily the spouse not liable for other spouse's debts: On the other hand, as a general rule, a spouse's separate property is not liable for the other spouse's debts, no matter when they were incurred. This gives the spouse whose separate property might be subject to attachment a safety net from the others spouses debt.

In addition, a separate property attorney will assert that a Joinder on secured loan against community estate does not expose the separate property to other spouse's debts. Again the separate property of the spouse is safe and immune from attachment from the other spouses encroachment.

Further, a spouse's separate property is not exposed to the other spouse's debts notwithstanding that the nondebtor spouse joined in or consented to an encumbrance of community estate property to secure payment of a debt incurred by the other spouse.

Separate property is subject to liability for such debt only if the spouse in question also “incurred the debt.”

At the Orange County Law Office of David P Schwarz we will defend or argue on behalf of client regarding the Exception to the general rule. A spouse will be liable for “necessaries of life”: A spouse is personally liable for a debt incurred by the other spouse before the date of separation for the latter's “necessaries of life” (food, clothing, shelter, etc.).

A separate property lawyer will make it clear however that a spouse who is personally liable for a debt incurred for “common necessaries of life” of his or her spouse after the date of separation is not liable for necessaries that are incurred while they are separated under an agreement, the other spouse is personally liable only if liability for support is stipulated to in the agreement.

It can be further noted that “necessaries of life” encompass more types of debt than “common necessaries of life.” For example, a creditor who supplies business equipment to one spouse during marriage may be able to recover against the other spouse for nonpayment. Although the equipment is not essential to sustain life and therefore may not qualify as “common necessary of life,” it can qualify under the law as necessary under certain situations. That is provided the equipment is considered reasonably necessary to running the debtor spouse's business and ability to earning a living.

At the Orange County Law Office of David P Schwarz we strive to protect the interest of the separate property spouse under harsh circumstances. Please contact our office at 949 725 9266 for a consultation. We can also be contacted by web or email at

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