Will Marrying Affect My Ability to File Bankruptcy? Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debts?

This is a very common question, and is often the basis for difficult discussions between those wishing to marry. The short answer is, no, a married person is generally not responsible for their spouse’s debts, and marrying will not seriously affect your ability to file bankruptcy.

In the State of Michigan, which operates under a doctrine known as “equitable distribution,” couples who divorce are entitled to a distribution of the property that they accumulated through their marriage according to the contribution they made to that property. Or, in simpler terms, you get your stuff, they get their stuff, and everything else is split based on who paid what.

Bankruptcy, and concerns about “marrying into debt,” has an easier answer: no. You are not responsible for your spouse’s debt. You are not automatically made party to the contracts of sale and credit your spouse has agreed to by virtue of your marriage. There is no law that automatically adds your name to contracts made under your spouse’s name.

It is always a good idea, of course, to discuss your financial liabilities with a prospective spouse prior to marriage and as new financial decisions are made so that, as a couple, you can adequately plan for the lifestyle you wish to achieve together. Further, one may consider it a matter of personal morality to “warn” a prospective spouse if your debts are high. However, regardless of the outcome of that necessary discussion, unless you co-sign for loans or credit-cards after the marriage is completed, you will not “marry” each other’s debt.

If you are a Michigan resident and are considering filing for bankruptcy and have questions regarding your debts or regarding any other part of the process, please contact me at ryan@moranlawoffice.com or (866) 820-5495 to schedule a free, initial consultation.