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In California, would a Legal Separation protect one spouse from the other's credit card debts occumulated during marriage?

Fairfield, CA |

If one spouse continues to use his/her separate credit cards for personal expenses without permission from the other spouse, can the other spouse protect himself/herself from financial liability from the other spouse's credit card debts by filling a Legal Separation?

By "Protect" means both credit portection and protection for debt collection.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Debts accrued after separation are presumed separate so separation would do that but in terms of credit card debt in general any debt accrued during marriage is presumed community.

    This is just my opinion and not a comprehensive answer. You assume the risk because this answer may not apply to your situation depending on the facts.

  2. Debts incurred while married are considered community debts under CA law and both spouses are liable.

    Once a legal separation is filed it would be presumed that all debts incurred from that point forward would be separate debts.

  3. There is no such thing, in California, as "Community debt" or "separate debt". A debt is either husband’s debt, wife’s debt or a joint debt (because they both signed the papers creating the debt).

    The important issue is what property can be seized by a creditor to satisfy a debt. If an item of property may be seized to satisfy a particular debt then it is said that the particular item of property is "liable for the debt." Here’s a simplification of the rules:

    Community property is liable for the debt of either spouse and for the joint debts

    Generally, the separate property of one spouse is not liable for the debt of the other spouse.

    If a couple gets divorced the portion of the community property awarded to a spouse is not liable for the debts of the other spouse unless the debt was assigned to the non-debtor spouse in the divorce agreement

    If, in the divorce, a joint debt is assigned to one spouse (let's assume the husband) but the husband declares bankruptcy the wife may still be sued by that creditor but the wife can sue the husband for reimbursement even though he has declared bankruptcy.

    The above rules apply to pre marriage debts with one important exception: The wages of the non debtor spouse are not liable for the pre marriage debts of the other spouse. And the non debtor spouse’s wages keep their protection so long as the wages are kept in an account that is not subject to the control of the debtor spouse

    Check the link below for an article I wrote on this subject

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