One common question that couples often ask is, “Do you inherit your spouse’s debt when you get married?”
In Georgia, the general rule is that you are not automatically responsible for your spouse’s pre-existing debt.
However, there are some circumstances where their debt can impact you in some way, even if you don’t legally “inherit” their debt.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt in Georgia?
In Georgia, debts incurred by one spouse before marriage remain the sole responsibility of that individual.
That means if your spouse has significant credit card debts, student loans, or other financial obligations before you tie the knot, those don’t automatically become yours upon saying “I do.”
Are You Responsible for Your Spouse’s Debt Before Marriage?
The law in Georgia follows the principle of “separate debt.”
Hence, you’re generally not responsible for your spouse’s debt incurred before marriage.
However, if you co-sign a loan or add your name to your spouse’s debt, you could be held liable.
When You Get Married, Do You Inherit Your Spouse’s Student Loans?
Student loans are a significant component of many individuals’ debt portfolios.
Similar to other types of debt, in Georgia, you typically do not inherit your spouse’s student loans when you get married unless you have legally agreed to share this debt.
Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Medical Debt?
Medical debts can be a substantial burden.
In Georgia, you won’t typically be held responsible for your spouse’s medical debts unless you’ve signed something agreeing to be responsible for these expenses.
Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt If They Pass Away?
In the event of a spouse’s death, their separate debts don’t automatically transfer to the surviving spouse.
However, joint debts or those tied to shared assets may still be obligations of the surviving spouse or the estate.
Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Credit Card Debt in Divorce in Georgia?
In a divorce, the division of debt can be complex.
Generally, credit card debt that is solely in your spouse’s name will remain their responsibility. Unless they can prove that you were a cardholder and that you also contributed to the debt during the marriage.
However, joint credit card debt may be divided between both parties during the divorce proceedings.
The division is not an equal “50/50” in Georgia but it is based on equitable division – what is fair based on the specific circumstances of each marriage.
Marrying Someone with Debt and Bad Credit in Georgia
Marrying someone with debt and bad credit doesn’t directly affect your credit score.
But it could impact joint financial decisions in the future, such as applying for joint credit or loans.
How to Not Be Responsible for Spouse’s Debt in Georgia
To avoid being held responsible for your spouse’s debt in Georgia, keep finances separate where possible, avoid co-signing loans, and seek legal advice when necessary.
Also, you can enter into a marital agreement: a prenup if you know your spouse-to-be has debts or will intend to have debts after you marry and you want to make sure it is their responsibility only, or a postnup if you are already married and would like to allocate debts accordingly.
To find out more about prenups and postnups, reach out to a local family law attorney. If you’re in the North Metro Atlanta area, give us a call at Your Law Firm to start the conversation.
Remember, understanding the financial implications of marriage is crucial for a secure financial future.
If you have further questions, consult with a seasoned family law attorney to guide you through the complexities of marital debt in Georgia.