Am I liable for the debt of my wife/husband?
Recently we had a member of the public contact us to ask about the laws relating to debts and marriage in Nigeria. She wanted to know whether the fact that she was married meant that she became jointly liable for the debts of her husband, and vice versa. We decided to write this short article on the back of that question, in order to enlighten anybody out there who had similar questions.
So, the short answer to the question – ‘Am I liable for the debts of my wife/husband’ is – ‘no, you are not liable’.
The long answer to this question however, is – ‘it depends’.
Financial liability for debts is a personal thing, so you can only be liable for the debts of your partner under one of this circumstances-
- You both took out the finance/credit in a joint capacity for example a joint loan or a mortgage in joint names; or you stood as a guarantor for your partner.
- You stood as a guarantor or surety for a finance/credit, which your spouse obtained. You legally only become liable for the debt of your partner when he/she defaults on the credit agreement.
- You voluntarily assume the debt in writing by way of an assignment of debt
- If your partner dies and you become the executor of the estate– you will be liable to pay the debt in your capacity of executor of the estate
If for any reason you are being harassed for the debt of a spouse or being asked to meet any financial obligation entered into solely by your partner, then you need to speak with your lawyer.
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We hope you have found this information helpful. Please note that this information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. No lawyer-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. This answer is not intended to substitute for the advice of a qualified lawyer. If you require legal advice, please consult with a qualified lawyer.