In community property states, such as California, both parties can be responsible for each other’s debts, even if one party did not open an account with his or her spouse.

Example – a husband opens a credit card debt, and uses the money for household expenses.  The wife may be held liable for the husband’s debt.


In Connecticut, and possibly all states, a spouse is responsible to provide for the necessities of the other spouse, and family   The concept is that each spouse should be assisting and be responsible for the expenses of having a household.

I have seen this doctrine used in Connecticut in situations in which there is an outstanding medical bill.  One spouse signs a form with a hospital agreeing to be responsible for the medical bills related to the care of a child.  The hospital sues both spouses because the medical care was necessary for the care of the minor child, and both spouses should be responsible to pay for the care.


There are three items related to property

  1. The deed – which relates to ownership of the property
  2. The Promissory Note – which indicates that a person is individually liable for a debt
  3. The Mortgage – which provides that a property can be foreclosed in the event that payment is not made as required by the Promissory Note

Each party who signs a Promissory Note is personally liable for the debt associated with a mortgage.

In many cases, as part of a divorce, one spouse transfers over the marital residence to the other spouse (the transferee).   The person giving up the property (the transferor) may mistakenly believe that after the transfer, he or she is no longer responsible for the mortgage payments.   This is a big mistake.   The divorce does not affect the relationship between the borrower and the lender.

Divorce agreements often provide that the transferee (new sole owner of the property) will hold the transferor harmless with regard to the mortgage debt.   The hold harmless clause does not always work well, as the transferee may lose a job or otherwise be unable to pay the mortgage.

Please feel free to contact Attorney Singer, with any questions.

Attorney Robert M. Singer

2572 Whitney Avenue

Hamden, CT  06518


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