Is a notarized document legal and binding?

Asked about 2 years ago - San Jose, CA

My husband and I are separated and will be divorced soon. We wrote an agreement that states we are both liable, 50/50 for a large personal loan, as stated in the loan contract. We had it notarized. I happen to know that the person holding the note is going to sue him for the remainng balance. Does this agreement we signed hold me liable to pay half, even if he is sued for 100%? It also states that he is to pay me a certain amount of money per month until a specified dollar amount is satisified. Is this legally binding?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Michael Charles Doland

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You are asking for legal opinons which are beyond legal analysis.

    Notarization, in and of itself does not make a document more "legal" (except with deeds etc) but only verifies the person signing was on satisfactory evidence who they said they were on a certain date.

    Your agreement does appear to have contractual merit. I cannot comment on the family law aspect, and have not seen the written agreement, so there are numerous missing facts.

    Finally, normally and not on your facts: two people who sign on an agreement or loan are "jointly and severally" (both of you liable for 100% with a right to demand equitable contribution from the other signer. The creditor does not have to sue each for 50 percent.

    A local San Jose attorney is easily found below on the Avvo Find A Lawyer function, left column.

    The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may... more
  2. Paul Bradley Schroeder

    Contributor Level 12


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Mr. Doland has it exactly right. Generally, a signed agreement would be binding, assuming the elements of a binding contact are present, offer, acceptance and consideration. I am not a family law lawyer, but I believe responsibility for this debt should be resolved in your divorce proceeding. However, that will not change the lender's right to sue either or both of you for 100% of what is owed, it will only effect one of you owes a contribution to the other in the event either of you pays more than your share to the lender.

  3. Andrew Kevin Jacobson


    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Assuming both you and your husband signed the documents for the personal loan, then you are both liable for it. However, that does not require the person who loaned the money to sue both of you. He can sue both of you, or just one of you -- and that one has the right to seek payment from the one not sued. The creditor can sue whoever s/he wants -- an agreement between you and your husband doesn't change who the creditor can sue, unless the creditor agrees to it and gets some type of consideration for that agreement.
    Even if only your husband signed the loan, it may still be owed by both of you if it went into the "community" of your husband and you, but that depends on specific facts that weren't given here.
    Notarizing a document provides extra evidence that the person signing is the who it is supposed to be. The fact of notarization does not change the obligation.
    If you have a family law lawyer, you should discuss this with the family law lawyer, and if you do not have a family law lawyer, you should consider doing so here. 510-208-5500. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is not legal... more
  4. John Noah Kitta

    Contributor Level 19

    Answered . Just because you and your ex notarized a document does not mean it will necessarily be binding and controlling. It certainly has no impact whatsoever as against your creditor. The court can decide if it’s fair and reasonable but as it stands now in of itself it’s not automatically legally binding.

    This participating Attorney does not warrant any information provided, nor are we creating an Attorney-Client... more

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