Debts and divorce, essential information

In the standard California divorce, wife and husband are eually responsible for community debts, debts acquired during the marriage–with an exception.

A couple can agree that one or the other of them will pay a particular debt.  But if he or she doesn’t, the creditor is not bound by that agreement, even if it is in a judgment.

An exception can be claimed if one spouse acquires a debt for something not in the interests of the marriage, something that might actually be harmful to the community financial interest.  One such possibility is a spouse spending money on an affair with another person.  The “community” is entitled to be paid back for whatever was spent.

In one mediated divorce, husband accounted for $40,000 of misspent community money.  He will pay wife $20,000 from his share of the equity in the house.

In a litigated divorce, husband said he would file bankruptcy.  On request, the judge ordered spousal support for wife to be paid by husband until she had the community debt–for which she alone could be held responsible–entirely paid off.  Spousal support is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.


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