I belong to an e-mail listserv with other solo practice attorneys throughout the country. A divorce attorney asked a question about bankruptcy and divorce. His client’s soon-to-be ex-wife had filed for bankruptcy without his knowledge and the attorney (having little or no experience in bankruptcy) posed a few questions to the board.
The economy has been falling apart before our very eyes, thus bankruptcy filings are naturally on the rise. While non recognition as a spouse or partner can be damaging financially and emotionally when it comes to obtaining support payments in family court, visiting a sick partner or inheriting from a dead one, it can be a blessing in disguise when discussing the “D” word: DEBT.
In many states, property purchased during a marriage is considered jointly owned by both spouses and debt incurred is likewise considered joint debt. This can be the case even if the debt is incurred by one spouse without the other’s knowledge.
If you remain legally unattached to your partner, you can avoid that unfortunate call from Mastercard…unless you specifically co-sign a debt for your partner (which you should never do), you won’t be on the hook!
So the next time you get grief at a cocktail party for being single, think about this: you will never be jointly responsible for anyone else’s debt.