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Can I Be Protected From My Spouse’s Business Debt?

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By Author: Marquez-Kelly Law
Total Articles: 5
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It’s a common concern amongst both husbands and wives that a failing business could impact them personally. If your spouse has considerable business debt, you may be asking yourself how this impacts you. It’s important to understand how business debt works in general and also how debt works in a marriage and divorce.

When your spouse’s (the same goes for both husbands and wives) business is failing it is a reasonable concern that these debts could affect the household detrimentally.

As we’ll cover in this article, you are free from liability in most cases. Here’s what you need to know.

Debt and Marriage In Florida

In Florida, you are not responsible for your business debts incurred prior to the marriage. Typically, debts incurred before marriage are considered non-marital property and you would not be liable for them. Attorney Marquez Kelly can explain all the potential debts you’ll be responsible for in your divorce.

When Will A Spouse Be Liable for Business Debts?

You and your spouse will be liable for any debts you entered into during the time you ...
... are married. Florida is not a community property state, you would have to sign an agreement in order for the court to hold you liable for any debts your ex incurred in his or her name only.

No Limited Liability:
If your business does not offer limited liability, then this means that your spouse would also be liable for your business debts just as they would for any personal debts you share with one another. If the company was formed as an LLC, however, there is a good chance that a spouse will not be on-the-hook when it comes to business debts.

Co signature on Business Debt:
Perhaps your spouse cosigned the loan documents that state that they will help you pay back any debts if you or the company are no longer able to do this. This is especially true in community property states.

Dealing with Bankruptcy and Divorce

Divorce and bankruptcy is another marriage-related factor that we must take a closer look at. Any Florida attorney will likely tell you that divorce and bankruptcy should not overlap at the same time because it can turn into an overly complicated matter. Part of the divorce process is working together to split up assets. If an automatic stay is given to creditors because somebody filed for business bankruptcy, it is impossible for the courts to divide assets, which means that your divorce process will take a longer amount of time than expected. This is why it is a good idea to never let the two coincide, and allow your business bankruptcy to play out if this is the option that works best for both of you.

How Common Law and Community Property Works

In common law property states:
Each spouse is a separate entity.
They can own property independent of any interest in the other spouse.
Assets and debts you acquire during a marriage are yours alone — unless otherwise indicated by a title or other legal document.

In community property states:
The law typically considers any assets acquired during a marriage to be the property of both spouses.
It treats debt the same way — what you earn, save and spend in the marriage is irrevocably tied to the other person, in most cases.
The property can't be “separately” owned, the property is exposed to the liabilities and creditors of both spouses.
In general, states that all assets purchased or acquired by a couple during their marriage are owned in equal measures by both of them.

Protecting yourself from debt

Paying off business debt can be difficult. If you don’t want to be liable for any sum of money your spouse received as part of their business activities, your only real option is to avoid co-signing or guaranteeing loans. Consulting with professionals to understand what your risks and options are is also crucial. They can also help you and your spouse deal with any financial hurdles the business may face.

Contact a Fort Myers, Florida Divorce Attorney

Attorney Marquez-Kelly provides a full range of personal and corporate services. Attorney Marquez-Kelly is a board member of the Association of Family Law Practitioners in Lee County. If you’d like to discuss your situation and learn more about your options, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Attorney Marquez-Kelly

Professional Accomplishments
In addition, Attorney Marquez-Kelly is a board member of the Association Of Family Law Practitioners in Lee County.
Member of the Florida Bar Association since 2007
Member of the United States District Court
Middle District of Florida since 2008
Founded Marquez-Kelly Law in 2013

Areas of Practice
Dissolution of Marriage
Family Law Matters
Real Estate Law

For legal queries, call Marquez Kelly-Law at 239-214-0403 or message us for a Free Half-Hour Consultation today.

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