If your partner has debt, you do too – this is what you can do about

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(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)
(PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES/GALLO IMAGES)

Question

I’ve been married for over 20 years and although we’ve had our ups and downs, I’ve been happy most of the time.

But now I’ve discovered my husband has a lot of debt. I’m shocked as I thought we were doing okay.

I’ve tried talking to him, but he doesn’t want to tell me exactly what’s happened and how much we owe. My friend told me I’m also responsible for his debts and I don’t know what to do.

Answer

Your friend is right. If you and your husband did not enter into an antenuptial contract before getting married, it means you are married in community of property. This basically means you have a joint estate. So, whatever it is that any one of you gains will be shared equally between the two of you.

This is also the case if there’s a loss. So in this case you are both liable for the debt he has incurred. He needs to come clean with you and tell you because this does not only affect him.

Talk to him about it and suggest that the two of you see a debt counsellor to find out what your options are. You will be able to get information about your credit rating and find out how you can remedy the situation, so it doesn’t affect you in future.

City Press suggests that If you get married in community of property (where all assets - good and bad - that were accumulated before and after the marriage are shared) you have to remember that all debts are shared equally. In other words, if you share responsibility for your partner’s debt, the debt collectors can come after you and your assets too.
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