The rules for determining which spouse is responsible for what debts incurred during the marriage vary between states and largely depend on the type of debt incurred. Generally, debt liability determinations fall into three classes:
In most states, all debts accumulated by a spouse in his or her own name are the responsibility of that spouse. An individual loan or credit card agreement is an agreement that one spouse enters into and that spouse is solely liable for the balance due on the loan or account.
Both spouses are typically responsible for debts incurred under joint accounts. A joint account can be a credit card, line of credit, or loan agreement that both spouses sign as responsible parties. The creditor may seek a recovery from either spouse for the unpaid balance.
Many states make exceptions for debt incurred for "marital necessities." In legalese, the term used is "necessaries" meaning food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, insurance and other "comfort" items typical of the marital parties' standard of living or station of life.
In the old days, the husband was responsible for any debt incurred by the wife for necessaries. Today, states vary considerably on who is responsible for paying creditors for marital necessities—here's how the situation might be treated:
However, CO doesn't have a necessities doctrine so the debt, unless you co-signed or guaranteed, is strictly his debt alone.
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