My Spouse has Debts, What Now?

The big day has finally arrived: you are getting married with the love of your life and a beautiful honeymoon to the Maldives is planned. But what if your newlywed spouse confesses to having debts after the proverbial yes? Do you then also have to pay?

The answer depends on the marital situation you are in and when and by whom the debts were incurred. Only when you have mapped this out, do you know what rights and obligations you and your partner have with a loan.

Common debts versus own debts

Common debts versus own debts

Most people are married under the legal marriage system. This system actually divides the assets of the partners into three: the assets of one spouse, the assets of the other spouse and the joint assets.

Both spouses are responsible for the costs and debts incurred during the marriage. Examples of this are the daily expenses for groceries, education costs for your children, the costs for the maintenance of your home, but also a renovation loan. For example, not only debts signed by both spouses are common, but also debts incurred in the interests of the family and household. A creditor of joint debts can therefore use the equity of each spouse in addition to the joint assets.

On the other hand there are the so-called own debts. These are debts that belong to one spouse. This can involve the following forms of debt:

    • Debts from before the marriage
    • Debts from an inheritance or gift to one spouse
    • Debts incurred in the interest of equity
    • Debts from a criminal conviction

These debts can in principle only be recovered from the spouse who made the debts.

What are the exceptions?

What are the exceptions?

If you have distanced yourself from the legal marriage system through a marriage agreement it may be different.

If you are married under the system of separation of property, each spouse remains the owner of his own property and creditors can only recover from the property of the spouse who has incurred the debt. Both partners can only be approached for loans signed by both partners.

If you are married under the general community of property scheme, you pay for all debts, including those that your partner entered into before the marriage.

In our article ‘ What happens with an outstanding loan in the event of a divorce’ you can read more about the various forms of marriage contracts and the associated rules.

So it is clear that when you get married you should have an open conversation with your prospective about any outstanding debts. That way you can look for a solution together where you both feel comfortable. This way you can fully enjoy your honeymoon.

If you want to take out a loan (together), do not hesitate to compare all financial institutions to find the financial product that suits you best.

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