Spousal Rights and Family Law: Credit Card Debt and Property

April 9th, 2014 by Dan Stone

Sad couple having an argumentSpousal Rights in relation to family law matters can be quite overwhelming. Toronto family law lawyer John Schuman answers your tough questions.

Q: Am I responsible for my husband’s credit card debt? We have separate bank accounts and my name is not on his credit cards. We have been married 13 years and live with his mother. Do I have any rights or can they just kick me out?

A: First, with regard to the credit card debt, you should check if the account is actually in the name of both you and your ex. If it is, then you can be on the hook for the full amount. If it is not, then unless you fall into an almost never used provision where your ex had to go into debt because you withheld the necessities of life, then you are not responsible for his debt. However, since you are married, you will be “equalizing your net family property” and his debt may influence that in a way that could result in you owing him (not the bank) half of that credit debt. To understand more about property equalization, listen to this podcast.

As to whether you can be kicked out, that depends on the situation. In Ontario, your married spouse cannot kick you out of a matrimonial home. That law does not apply to landlords, who can kick people out in accordance with landlord tenant law. If there is a lease, you are both entitled to stay in the leased premises for as long as the lease is in good standing (subject to a tribunal application). For the reasons why you should not leave, watch this video on common family law mistakes.

A lot of little facts could change how things work out for you. So you should see a good family law lawyer. If you cannot afford to retain a lawyer, then you should book a consultation to get some advice specific to your situation. You may also want to pick up a copy of this easy-to-understand $20 book on Ontario Family Law, which gives more detail on these debt, property and matrimonial home issues, as well as most other family law and family court topics.


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