What is Community Debt?

3,373 families filed bankruptcy using Upsolve.

Written by Kristin Turner.  
Updated August 21, 2019

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"Community Debt" is:

  • any debt that you or your spouse acquired while married or

  • any debt for which you and your spouse are co-signers

in these ten states:

  • Arizona

  • California

  • Idaho

  • Louisiana

  • Nevada

  • New Mexico

  • Texas

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin

  • Alaska (not Community Debt by default, but you can sign an agreement with your spouse making your debt Community Debt)

If either you or your spouse file bankruptcy, neither of you will be responsible for your dischargeable Community Debt any longer.

If you divorce or legally separate from your spouse before you file bankruptcy, you will only be responsible for debts that you personally incurred -- with a few exceptions. Former spouses are still responsible for any debts that either of them incurred for family necessities, to maintain joint property (like a home), or for which they are still co-signers.

In most states these rules apply equally to debts acquired in traditional and Common Law marriages, same-sex marriages, same-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions in states where those relationships are the equivalent of marriage, but not in states where the relationship does not confer all the rights of marriage.

It is important that you accurately determine which type of debt you have so that you can determine who will be responsible for it after you file bankruptcy.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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