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  • FIRST POST
    LouBLou
    Am I liable for estranged husband's debts?
    • #1
    • 29th Mar 09, 12:12 PM
    Am I liable for estranged husband's debts? 29th Mar 09 at 12:12 PM
    This might have been covered elsewhere - if so, I'm sorry for the duplicate post.

    I separated from my husband last year but have yet to start divorce proceedings. We agreed at the time to separate our finances (mainly debt!) and did so fairly amicably and with the bank's support.

    It has since become clear that he isn't keeping up his repayments and, due to a clerical error at the bank, payments have been taken from my savings account for his loan and credit card repayments. The bank originally failed to remove his name from the savings account but this has now been done and the money is being returned to me.

    Anyway, it got me thinking about whether the bank could legally take the money from me if he isn't making his payments. I am still his wife and I'm worried that might make me in some way liable. In this instance I'm getting the money back but it's made me worry about what they could do if they put their minds to it...

    Does anyone know for certain either way?

    Thanks in advance...Lou
Page 1
    • money maker
    • By money maker 29th Mar 09, 12:35 PM
    • 9,588 Posts
    • 35,181 Thanks
    money maker
    • #2
    • 29th Mar 09, 12:35 PM
    • #2
    • 29th Mar 09, 12:35 PM
    Are the debts still in joint names? If so then you are both liable for them I'm afraid and the bank can take the money out of either of your accounts that you hold with them.
    One way around this is to move all of your savings to a different bank, but unless you can get your name removed from the joint debt, then it is yours aswell.
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  • LouBLou
    • #3
    • 29th Mar 09, 12:39 PM
    • #3
    • 29th Mar 09, 12:39 PM
    Thanks money maker. No, his debt is in his name; my debt is in mine. We did have a joint current account which was put solely into my name last year. The same should have been done to the savings account at the same but the bank didn't press the correct big red button (or some such lame excuse!)

    So, as of Friday everything is now in our individual names but I wondered if there was an implied joint responsibility because we're still legally married.
  • peachyprice
    • #4
    • 29th Mar 09, 1:18 PM
    • #4
    • 29th Mar 09, 1:18 PM
    As long as they're not joint debts you are not liable for them, ever.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
  • LouBLou
    • #5
    • 29th Mar 09, 3:09 PM
    • #5
    • 29th Mar 09, 3:09 PM
    That is excellent news and a real relief, thanks peachy!

    I'd be heartbroken if I was working so hard to pay off my debts and then it could all be undone just like that.


  • cabbage
    • #6
    • 29th Mar 09, 3:48 PM
    • #6
    • 29th Mar 09, 3:48 PM
    Hi

    I don't wish to worry you unecessarily but you need to know that some debts are classed as "joint and several" whether or not both names are on the account. This means that both of you are liable for the full amount regardless of whose name is on the bill or took out the service. Usually this is because you've both had the benefit of the service.

    Joint and several debts that spring to mind are council tax and utilities.

    Most other debts if they are in your ex's sole name are his responsibility.
    The Cabbage
    Its Advice - Take it or Leave it
  • LouBLou
    • #7
    • 29th Mar 09, 4:27 PM
    • #7
    • 29th Mar 09, 4:27 PM
    Thanks cabbage but I think (hope) I'm OK on that front. Really appreciate the heads-up though.

    My debt is an unsecured personal loan; his is a combination of an unsecured personal loan and credit card(s). None of them have ever been in joint names though. Thank goodness!

    When we separated I took control of all the outstanding household bills, settled them with the returned deposit from our rented flat, then split what was left 50/50. It seemed like a real chore at the time but, knowing what I know now, I'm glad I did it that way for my own peace of mind
    ...
    • MrsTinks
    • By MrsTinks 29th Mar 09, 4:58 PM
    • 14,162 Posts
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    MrsTinks
    • #8
    • 29th Mar 09, 4:58 PM
    • #8
    • 29th Mar 09, 4:58 PM
    Also beware that unless it's an amicable divorce he might seek for some of the debts to be made your responcibility - say if all the debts in his name were run up together on fab holidays travelling the world together - the argument would be that you ran the debts up jointly. However that would be part of the divorce settlement - so nothing written in stone really.
    Assuming the divorce is amicable this probably won't crop up though
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  • LouBLou
    • #9
    • 29th Mar 09, 5:56 PM
    • #9
    • 29th Mar 09, 5:56 PM
    Good point. But if it comes to that then I could argue the same about the half of the debt that I was left with too. And then some.

    For what it's worth, the agreement to split it as we did was made with the bank's support. He also accepted a cash sum for the odd bit of money when the maths didn't quite work out. I'm not sure how that would stand up in court but it's something.
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