Arizona is a community property state, so it can be confusing for both creditors and debtors whether a debtor’s spouse’s assets can be taken to satisfy the debts of the debtor-spouse. For example, if your wife has lots of student loan debt and she marries you, can you be attacked legally by her creditors if she fails to pay the student loans?
In Arizona, the separate property of a spouse is not liable for the separate debts of the other spouse unless there is an agreement by the non-debtor spouse to the contrary. So in the above example, the husband’s assets would not be subject to seizure by the wife’s premarital student loan creditors.
However, the spouses’ community property is liable for the premarital separate debts of a spouse but only to the extent of the value of that spouse’s contributions to the community property which would have been that debtor-spouse’s separate property if that debtor-spouse were single. So creditors could have the ability to make your life difficult, but there are limits placed on what and how much they can take. You will need a consultation with a competent and experienced attorney if you are facing these kinds of issues. Mr. Thomas has over 20 years of experience handling divorce and bankruptcy cases (battling creditors brings him much joy), so he is skilled at determining the extent of your liability if you have a spouse with financial baggage.
If you are planning to marry someone with financial baggage, you should also visit Mr. Thomas to find out how to protect yourself from possible future creditor attacks. There may be things that can be done before you get married that will prevent you from being targeted by your soon-to-be wife’s creditors.
Also, in Arizona community property is liable for a spouses’ debts incurred outside Arizona during the marriage which would have been community debts if incurred in Arizona. In other words, it does not matter whether the location where the debt was incurred is a community property state or a separate property state – as long as you and your wife are married at the time the debt was incurred, the debt will be presumed to be community property.
Again, this is a complicated topic so it is critical that you obtain a consultation if you have specific questions about your situation. Do not rely on general information you obtain on the internet. Although it is a good idea to educated yourself on the general standards so that you can have a more intelligent and productive consultation with your attorney, you should rarely take action based on general information without knowing whether any important exceptions apply to your situation.