My wife is moving out before the divorce is final. She has the lease and utilities in her name. If she cannot pay them, am I responsible for her debts since I’ll be living here?
You need to consult a domestic litigation attorney licensed in your state as marital debt responsibilities and divorces vary from state to state. Cordell & Cordell has attorneys licensed and located in Florida who would be happy to meet with you.
Is she moving out pursuant to a Temporary Order from the Court or on her own volition? If so, you should review the Order as there may be provisions which detail who is responsible for paying debts and obligations during the pendency of the action. If you do not have temporary orders, I do not know who is responsible for the obligations as I do not practice in your state. In Wisconsin, debts incurred during the marriage by either party are marital debts, meaning both parties are responsible.
She could motion the Court for temporary orders that would require you to be solely responsible for the rent and utilities during the pendency of the action since you are the one living there. Conversely, you may be able to obtain orders requiring her to pay. If you proceed without an Order from the Court, your utility company may also allow you to start an account for services going forward in your name.
You should contact an attorney right away, as he or she can discuss your options for getting her to contribute or pay for these expenses and your potential responsibilities while the divorce is pending.
Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.