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Do you have to pay your ex-spouse’s debts after a divorce?

When you file for divorce in California, dividing your debt might seem fairly simple. You keep the debts that you accumulated, and your spouse keeps the debts that they accumulated, right? Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than that. California is a community property state, which means that all assets are divided 50/50, including credit card debts.

How are assets divided in the state of California?

Since California is a community property state, anything you accumulated during your marriage is considered shared property. This include assets that you bought with your money and that have your name on them. It also includes debts that your former spouse accrued on a credit card with your name on it. As a result, you might end up paying half your former spouse’s debts after the divorce.

Once the divorce has been finalized, creditors might start going after you to collect your share of the debts. In extreme cases, you might have to sue your former spouse to get them to pay their debts. It’s unfair, but it may be the only way to protect yourself.

What if your spouse deliberately accumulates debts?

Once you tell your spouse that you want to file for divorce, they might pull stunts to get back at you. A common tactic is running up large amounts of credit card debt so that you’ll be forced to pay for half of it after you split up. Luckily, most judges see this as an exception to the “community property” law. If your former spouse accumulates debt after the divorce announcement, you will probably not be held responsible for it.

What’s the best way to protect yourself during a divorce?

An attorney may be able to help protect you and your assets during a divorce. They might also protect you from stunts pulled by your former spouse, like accumulating massive amounts of debt.