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That’s Not My Problem (Or Is It?): When Are Spouses Liable For One Another’s Debts?

Individuals, including spouses, are generally liable for their own debts and not the obligations of others. If you are married, however, there are circumstances in which you may be responsible for your spouse’s debts, even if you played no role in incurring them. During a divorce, such debts would be considered “marital” and typically divided between you.

Under Minnesota law, a spouse is responsible for paying the indebtedness of the other spouse if:

• the debt was for necessary medical expenses and was incurred while the two of you were living together;

• the debt was for household expenses or supplies used by the family during the time that the two of you lived together;

• both spouses agreed to pay the debt, such as a joint credit card, even if you are no longer living together; or

• the spouse has used the credit card in the past.

If you have a joint credit card or other unsecured line of credit with your spouse, and on which you are both contractually liable, either of you can close the account by giving written notice to the creditor. This can often be a wise step if you believe that your spouse may run up debt.

Student loans are typically the responsibility of the borrower, however funds from student loans are sometimes used for joint living expenses. If the borrower can prove how much was used for such expenses, the court may consider that portion of the student loan to be marital debt and divided it between you.

To discuss division of debts, or any other family law issue, call Kruse Family Law PLLC at 612.231.9865 or email

wine and bottle on table facing lake
When can you be liable for a spouse's debts during divorce?

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