In Texas, “Community Debts” Do Not Exist
Property acquired during marriage is generally community property. However, debts acquired during the marriage are not community debts. In fact, “community debts” do not even exist in Texas. Tedder v. Gardner Aldrich, LLP, 421 S.W.3d 651, 654 (Tex. 2013), reh’g denied (Dec. 13, 2013). According to the Texas Supreme Court, the idea of a “community debt” is problematic because courts can mistakenly use it to assign liability to a spouse who did not incur the debt. Id. In Texas, spouses cannot be jointly liable for a debt under a community property theory. Id.
The Spouse Who Incurs The Debt Is Liable For The Debt
Rodgers v. Rodgers, 07-12-00282-CV (Tex. App.—Amarillo Apr. 17, 2014, no. pet. h.) illustrates this point.
When Kenneth and Mary were married, Kenneth took out a loan to buy tools. While their divorce was pending, however, Mary sold the tools but did not use the money to pay off the debt. In the Final Decree of Divorce, the trial court assigned the debt solely to Kenneth.
The Amarillo Appellate Court affirmed, reasoning that (1) the trial court had not made any findings of fact and conclusions of law, and (2) the trial court made its ruling in light of a myriad of other factors.