Is wife liable for hubby’s debts?

NO!  Students (and even most lawyers) are always surprised when I say that my wife is absolutely not liable for my debts – and certainly not because she is my wife.

Property that she and I own may be liable for my debts (i.e., is probably liable for my debts).

A few California Family Code sections:

910.

(a) *** the community estate is liable for a debt incurred by either spouse before or during marriage, regardless of which spouse has the management and control of the property and regardless of whether one or both spouses are parties to the debt or to a judgment for the debt.

(b) “During marriage” for purposes of this section does not include the period after the date of separation ***.

911.

(a) The earnings of a married person during marriage are not liable for a debt incurred by the person’s spouse before marriage.  After the earnings of the married person are paid, they remain not liable so long as they are held in a deposit account in which the person’s spouse has no right of withdrawal and are uncommingled with other property in the community estate, except property insignificant in amount.

(b) ***

 

913.

(a) The separate property of a married person is liable for a debt incurred by the person before or during marriage.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by statute:

(1) The separate property of a married person is not liable for a debt incurred by the person’s spouse before or during marriage.

(2) The joinder or consent of a married person to an encumbrance of community estate property to secure payment of a debt incurred by the person’s spouse does not subject the person’s separate property to liability for the debt unless the person also incurred the debt.

914.

(a) Notwithstanding Section 913, a married person is personally liable for the following debts incurred by the person’s spouse during marriage:

(1) A debt incurred for necessaries of life of the person’s spouse before the date of separation of the spouses.

(2) Except as provided in Section 4302, a debt incurred for common necessaries of life of the person’s spouse after the date of separation of the spouses.

(b) ***

 

So I am personally liable for my wife’s debts and she for mine ONLY IF the debt was incurred for “necessaries,” which I believe means food, hospitals or medical debts etc.

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