Are You Married to Your Spouse’s Premarital Debt?

Madeleine Jones
October 12, 2017

getting marriedGetting married in Nevada does not mean that individuals marry their spouse’s premarital debts. Creditors cannot pursue individuals for debts their spouse acquired prior to the date of marriage. This can include student loans, mortgages, personal loans, gambling debts, lines of credit, etc.

Community Property in Nevada

Nevada is a community property state and, typically, any assets or debts acquired after marriage belong to both spouses. However, unlike other community property states, Nevada allows couples to have both separate and community debts. This can include credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, etc. Effectively, both partners may acquire debt, with the exception of real estate, that both parties will be responsible for.

Collections & Garnishment

It is not uncommon for debt collectors to attempt to collect payment from a debtor’s spouse. In most cases, the debt collector has no grounds to stand on and is hoping that the spouse will not know his/her legal rights. Unless the spouse has co-signed on the loans or otherwise transferred the debt to his or her name, the debt collector cannot collect payment. However, that does not mean that they won’t attempt to threaten, harass, or coerce payment. When and if they do, it’s important to know that these actions are violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act that should be reported and investigated.

The Doctrine of Necessaries

Nevada recognizes the doctrine of necessities that states that each spouse is required to support their partner with their own separate property in situations where no community property is available to satisfy marital debts. For example, if a spouse accrues significant medical bills during the marriage, creditors may pursue the debt from the other spouse. However, the doctrine of necessaries does not apply to those debts that were incurred prior to the marriage.

Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements

Nevada recognizes both premarital and post-nuptial agreements. It is quite common for these agreements to stipulate the disposition of certain debts, i.e. specific credit cards, credit accounts, loans, gambling debts, etc. The law protects individuals from creditors attempting to collect debts that are not assigned to them under the terms of these agreements. A Nevada debt lawyer can assist individuals in ceasing these collection efforts and pursuing any appropriate action against creditors who violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.