You know that getting divorced means you and your partner are going to have to divide your assets. You also know that California is a community property state, which means that everything the two of you own is supposed to be divided equally. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise, that is the default position for the court.
But does this also apply to debt? Say that your spouse took out a lot of debt that you didn’t approve of during the marriage. Are you still responsible for keeping half of this debt after you get divorced?
When did they take out the loans?
The big question here is simply when they took those loans and when they incurred that debt. If it happened after the marriage, community property laws state that it should be divided equally, just like your assets.
Also, you have to keep in mind that many married couples have joint accounts. For instance, perhaps you and your spouse share a credit card. Even if you can show that the bulk of the purchases made on that credit card account were done by your spouse, you are still responsible for the balance of the account. The same goes for a home mortgage, since your name is on the loan.
Exceptions include things that may have been incurred before the marriage. For instance, maybe you and your spouse met in college. They had already taken out the student loans they needed to pay for tuition. You would not be responsible for this separate property, as they would’ve brought that debt with them to your marriage. It would stay with them after the divorce. But if they took out loans after you were married so they could go back to school, then you may have to be responsible for a portion of those loans.
Finances can get complicated in a divorce, so make sure you know what options you have.