I have been legally separated from my wife for many years. During the time of separation she has accumulated thousands in debt owed to utility companies.
Can I be held liable for debts accumulated by my spouse during a legal separation?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New York divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
Whether you can be held responsible for the outstanding debt will depend on several things. Did you enter into a separation agreement at the time of separation?
If you did, the agreement should specifically state that any and all debts incurred after the execution of the agreement would be the sole responsibility of the party who incurred the debt. In that case, you would have no obligation.
If you did not have an agreement in place when you separated, the fact that you are separated may not in itself be enough to free you from some potential responsibility.
The courts have wide latitude in deciding issues such as distribution of property and debt. Even if you were not around when the debt was accumulated the court can look to your current position and your wife’s current position and decide as of the time of the divorce filing how things should be distributed. This will largely depend on the judge.
Another important thing you will need to consider is spousal maintenance. Normally, because you have been separated for so long, assuming you have not been paying maintenance, the court would not order maintenance moving forward.
However, because of your wife’s medical condition, she may be in a position to ask for maintenance. Whether the court will consider such a request depends, again, on a lot of factors, but if it has not already been addressed in a separation agreement, it is something you will want watch out for.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.