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Will I be responsible for my husbands debt in the divorce?

Discussion in 'Division of Marital Property' started by Olivia Terhune, Aug 20, 2019.

  1. Olivia Terhune

    Olivia Terhune Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I’m planning on divorcing my husband, who is aware, and currently deployed in Afghanistan. During our marriage he bought a car for me to drive. Loan and registration are in his name only. He used this car against me numerous times, and he’s attempted to have it physically taken from me. Since it is marital property, he was not able to take it from me to give to his mother.. Now, he no longer wishes to keep it, and insists I am solely responsible. He tells me I must put the loan in my name (I couldn’t if I wanted to, I do not qualify) and that I alone need to make the payments. I’ve been making the payments, as it only felt right since I was the primary driver of the vehicle. However, I’m not interested in transferring the loan or title into my name, I just couldn’t have him take it with no notice. I do not want to keep the car. The car is not worth as much as we owe, the gap being probably close to 3 grand. I cannot afford to continue paying the loan installments. I’m living with my mother because of the financial complications it causes. All I want to know is if I walk away, and leave him to deal with the car, will I be legally reprimanded/ required to financially reimburse him? When the divorce settles, will half the debt from the vehicle be mine? Or will it remain his because it’s all under his name? What steps can I take to protect my financial stability at this point? (Sidenote: I rearended someone and it did not result in a report being filed, their choice. There is minimal damage to the front number. Does that make me anymore responsible for the vehicle than I would have been?)
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If a service member's spouse desires to get divorced while he or she is deployed, the procedural process is the same.

    However, the deployment in a combat zone may offer a number of complications along the way to D_I_V_O_R_C_E!

    As far as the debts, in most states, debts are resolved during the division of matrimonial assets.

    Your state is CA.

    California is a community property state, which means the law presumes all property acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both spouses.

    As a result, the court will divide marital property equally when the spouses divorce.

    The length of your marriage does not affect the division of assets and debts.

    I suggest you speak with a CA attorney as to how you should proceed.

    If you own real property and/or have created ISSUE, you really need a divorce attorney to guide you.

    If you can't wait until he returns to CONUS, you'll also need a lawyer to accomplish the divorce during his deployment.

    How many years have you been married to the person deployed?

    If it has been 10 or more years, you are entitled to 50% of any military retirement he one day receives.

    All the more reason to hire yourself a lawyer.

    Don't worry about paying for the lawyer, the lawyer gets paid out of the marital estate (which means the deployed spouse pays to some extent).
  3. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Not sure what this means (and not sure it matters).

    That doesn't make any sense. Also, the term used in California is community property, not marital property.

    I'm not sure what "legally reprimanded" might mean.

    As you noted, the car is almost certainly community property. Likewise, the loan is almost certainly community debt, even though only his name is on the loan papers. Given that your husband is deployed out of the country, I'm uncertain what you're contemplating when you speak of "walk[ing] away and leav[ing] him to deal with the car." However, if no one makes the loan payments, the lender will presumably repossess the car and sell it at auction. Since the car is upside down, there will probably be a significant balance due even after the auction, so the lender will presumably sue your husband. Whether the lender understands that the debt is a community debt for which you are jointly and severally liable is something we cannot predict. As long as your husband is deployed, a lawsuit against him cannot legally proceed. When he gets back, he could file a cross-complaint against you. At the very least, when you eventually divorce, he can seek an unequal division of community property or an order that you reimburse him as a result of this.

    We have no way of predicting how two people we don't know might settle their divorce.

    Pay the loan unless advised not to do so by the divorce attorney with whom you should consult.


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