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Will my soon-to-be spouse be stuck with my debt?

There are many important financial questions to consider when preparing to get married in Nevada. In addition to basic concerns like who is responsible for living expenses and what sort of lifestyle is affordable, many couples these days are also concerned about their debts and how that could impact their future spouse. These issues often get muddled as each partner seeks to come to the aid of the other and to help settle financial differences in order to start a new life together. However, financial distress can be one of the leading factors in a divorce, so these issues should be taken seriously from the start.

In the event of a divorce or a legal separation, it can be very difficult to figure out how to divide debts, particularly with recession-era problems like underwater mortgages. In some cases, one spouse may have purchased the house initially on their own, but added their spouse to the mortgage or the deed after the marriage. In those situations, determining who is responsible for the debt and in what proportion can be difficult.

Nevada is a community property state, which means that anything purchased or earned during the marriage is presumed to be held by both spouses equally. In some situations this can be helpful, promising a meaningful share of income to a lesser-earning spouse. In other situations, like on a ballooning mortgage payment, borrowers often wish that they could keep their spouse out of it, only to discover that state law deems that the debt is shared. Community property laws dictate that debts be divided equitably - which means according to a sense of fairness. Unfortunately, sometimes an individual's sense of fairness can be divergent with the views of the family court.

Source: Fox Business, "Will Prenup Protect Fiancé from My Debt?" Steve Bucci, March 28, 2013.

Information about asset division and marital debts can be found on our Las Vegas family law site.

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