We jointly purchased solar panels for my home before marriage, which I pay for. Is he responsible for half the debt after divorce?

Question:

We jointly purchased solar panels for my home before marriage, which I pay for. Is he responsible for half the debt after divorce?

My husband and I jointly purchased solar panels for my home, (I am sole owner of the house) prior to marriage (3 months before wedding). He lived in my home at the time. He is on the purchase agreement, yet I make all the payments. Will he be responsible for a portion of that debt upon divorce? The balance due is over 7K. I was the primary provider during the entire marriage, as well as the 2.5 years prior to it. Within weeks of separating, he obtained gainful employment and now has a sizable income.
Does the same answer apply to any “joint” debts we incurred on my personal credit cards? Or does the fact that everything was on my card mean I must pay all debt myself? This includes vacations, gifts for HIS children, clothing for him, entertainment, etc.

Answer:

The general rule is of course that all debt incurred during the marriage is community debt and therefore divided equitably. However this debt was incurred prior to the marriage and is therefore more like a partnership debt. Also since the debt was paid for during the marriage with community funds (presumably your salary) you received a benefit to your sole and separate property, your home, from the community. The same is true for mortgage payments on your separate debt (the mortgage). In a nutshell you will not be able to simply have him be obligated on the permanent fixture to your home without some degree of compensation to him.

Good luck!

Patrick Sampair
The Sampair Group, PLLC

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