The answer to this question, like so many others associated with divorce, is “it depends.” McKinney divorce lawyers know that in general terms, debts that are considered “community” liabilities may be shared while debts treated as “separate” will be considered the responsibility of only one partner.

But the rules for classifying debts are not always cut and dried. Moreover, lenders often take a different viewpoint in terms of liability, which can seriously affect your credit score. So it is important to take all available steps to protect yourself as much as possible.

Spousal Liability

Many people are surprised to learn that the Texas Family Code declares that a person is liable for acts taken by their spouse in certain circumstances, but only in those circumstances. And that includes acts that incur debt.

Under Section 3.201 of the Texas Family Code, someone can only be responsible for an act of their spouse if the spouse acted as their agent or the spouse incurred a debt for “necessaries.” When is someone acting as an agent? The statute specifies that marriage alone does not make someone an agent. However, it is not always obvious when someone is acting as an agent.

Similarly, the law of what is considered “necessary” is equally vague at times. Food, clothing, shelter, and essential medical care would be considered necessary, so you would be held liable for debts your spouse incurs to buy food or pay to treat a heart condition. But debts for cosmetic surgery, even though a medical expense, would likely not be considered necessary, and you might not be liable for those. Since a determination of what is necessary is based on the unique circumstances of a case, McKinney divorce lawyers could prepare the best argument to show why an expense incurred by your ex should be not considered community debt as a necessary expense.

Does Separation Prevent You From Acquiring More of Your Spouse’s Debt?

Until a divorce is final, a couple is still considered to be married, and that means they can still rack up community debts even if they are separated. If you enter into a separation agreement with your soon-to-be ex, you can contractually specify that your future debts will belong to each of you alone.

However, regardless of your contractual arrangement, creditors may still consider both of you liable for any debts. It is best to close old accounts, pay off these debts as quickly as possible, and open new separate accounts to keep your financial reputation and credit intact.

Find Out How McKinney Divorce Lawyers Can Protect Your Finances

Divorce puts you in a precarious position financially. Even after the divorce is finalized, your liability for old debts can be unclear. It is a good idea to review financial circumstances in detail with McKinney divorce lawyers who can advise you of the best steps to protect yourself from incurring added debt from your ex.

At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC, we strive to protect the financial interests of clients in all types of circumstances. To learn how we could help in your case, contact us today for a confidential consultation.