Legal Question in Bankruptcy in Virginia

other spouse responsible for debt when one files bankruptcy?

I filed bankruptcy 3yrs.ago before I married my now husband,he aquired alot of bills not to my knowledge;but then has filed bankruptcy on all bills; the debt collectors are stating now that I am responsible for his debts. We had a statement drew up and signed by he and I and 4 other witnesses that we would not be responsible for any debts that the other one makes during our marriage unless both signatures were on the debts. Is this legal, and can I still be held responsible for his debts even though he filed them under bankruptcy and we signed this paper? Please let me know on this ASAP.

Asked on 4/01/06, 10:42 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Daniel Press Chung & Press, P.C.

Re: other spouse responsible for debt when one files bankruptcy?

You are only liable for debts that you incurred (including those that you incured jointly, co-signed for, or guaranteed), EXCEPT that you may be liable for debts for "necessaries" (like medical care).

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Answered on 4/01/06, 10:49 pm

James Wilson James H. Wilson, Jr., Attorney & Counsellor at Law

Re: other spouse responsible for debt when one files bankruptcy?

You should consult with a Virginia lawyer concerning the applicability of the law to the facts of your particular situation. The following is general information on the doctrine of necessaries in Virginia.

At common law, a man could be legally responsible for any necessary goods or services provided to his spouse or his child by a third party. In Virginia, the common law doctrine of necessaries was abolished in 1983 as an unconstitutional gender-based classification under the Virginia Constitution and a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in Schilling v. Bedford Co. Hospital, 225 Va. 539, 303 S.E.2d 905 (1983)

The doctrine of necessaries survives as codified in Section 55-37 of the Code of Virginia and now applies equally to each spouse:

55-37. Spouse not responsible for other spouse's contracts, etc.; mutual liability for necessaries; responsibility of personal representative. Except as otherwise provided in this section, a spouse shall not be responsible for the other spouse's contract or tort liability to a third party, whether such liability arose before or after the marriage. The doctrine of necessaries as it existed at common law shall apply equally to both spouses, except where they are permanently living separate and apart, but shall in no event create any liability between such spouses as to each other. No lien arising out of a judgment under this section shall attach to the judgment debtors' principal residence held by them as tenants by the entireties.


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Answered on 4/02/06, 8:17 am

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