In Washington State Domestic Partnership laws, does one partner's debt become both partners' debt upon registering?

Though we pool all our money and always have, I currently have reasonable credit well on the way to complete repair but about four years ago we had to short-sell our house, which was in my partner's name as were most of our credit cards, etc. so her credit, which was perfect before, is now destroyed. We made a conscious choice to repair mine first since it was less damaged.We can't afford for both of our credit standings to be ruined or for the work we've done to repair mine to be lost, but we really want our relationship legally recognized and moved back to Washington just over a year ago to make that happen. We have wills, etc., but the issue of debt is very confusing and has left us wary of making a legal commitment we've waited years to make real. Help?

Seattle, WA -

Attorney Answers (1)

Brian S Wayson

Brian S Wayson

Social Security Lawyers - Portland, OR
Answered

If you want to keep things separate you should not co-mingle (pool) money from pre-registration and post-registration in checking accounts or savings accounts; nor accumulate debt together post-registration on any pre-registration individual accounts. You need to keep all accounts from pre-registration and post-registration separate. So if A had a checking account and B had a checking account, then A + B get registered as domestic partners to protect their individual accounts they should get a third joint account for all money acquired post-registration. If you take the pre-registration checking account of B and add a post-registration paycheck from A or B to it then the entire account comes to be seen as community property. An analogous thing happens with debt, say A had a credit card with $10,000 on it pre-registration, then post registration that card is used to buy household groceries every week and other expenses, then the debt goes up to $12,000; now all $12,000 of debt is community debt. Etc.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice,... more
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