Florida spousal liability laws protect both parties from agreements entered into by only one spouse. The law allows both wife and husband the ability to maintain separate property, but holds them jointly accountable for transactions both knowingly undertake. This removes deception from the marriage and promotes a spirit of partnership.
Assets Acquired Before Marriage
In Florida, assets and debts that are acquired before a marriage are nonmarital assets. This means that you are not liable for any debts taken on by your spouse before your marriage takes place. This can include mortgages for property, medical bills and credit card debt. Your spouse will take this debt with him even if you divorce; a court cannot compel you to make payments on these debts.
You and your spouse are liable for debts you enter into together over the course of the marriage. Since Florida is not a community property state, you must sign an agreement in order to be held liable in court for debts your spouse incurs in his own name. This means that all joint accounts, mortgages and other loans carry liability for both parties and may be divided equally in a divorce proceeding. This also means that if you open a credit card account with your spouse but only your spouse uses the card, you are still responsible for the debt because your name is on it. However, if the card is in your spouse's name only, you will not be held responsible for it.
Married Women's Property
Married women can maintain separate assets in the marriage under Florida law. This includes real property, finances, bank accounts and businesses. The husband is not responsible or liable for any debts, damages or lawsuits that may result from the ownership of this property and cannot be compelled to contribute to the debts in a divorce proceeding. While the wife may maintain separate assets, this law does not excuse either party from the obligation to support one another.
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