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When spouses are not living together, it can be difficult to determine which spouse is legally responsible to pay debts. The timing of when the debt was incurred, the nature of the debt and state law are important considerations in this assessment.
At common law, the spouse – typically the husband – was legally liable for the support of the other spouse. This right could be enforced on the spouse, either by the other spouse or by third-party creditors. Today, some states have established statutes that require a spouse to be responsible for necessary or family expenses, even in the absence of an express agreement to pay such a debt.
The Supreme Court has acknowledged the validity of same sex marriage throughout the country. Of course, after parties get married, some of those parties decide to divorce. However, not all divorces are treated equally, because some of the doctrines surrounding divorce have traditionally been applied only to long standing heterosexual marriages.
For example, one of the grounds often asserted to obtain a divorce is that of adultery. However, adultery has traditionally been given a limited and narrow definition, involving vaginal intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse. Because of this limited definition of adultery, typically interpreted to apply to sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, by definition it is technically not applicable to infidelity in a same – sex relationship. As a result, this limited definition may deprive same sex couples of this ground for absolute divorce. It would be appropriate for the legislature to consider expanding the definition to be applicable to physical relationships between persons of the same sex.
Divorce is a situation that few people ever plan, budget or save for. It is also a significant disruption to everyday life. Housing, finances, family relations and friendships can be seriously affected by a divorce, however amicable. Deciding on the best way to handle the divorce goes along with the decision to pursue divorce at all.
Even people who would prefer not to divorce often come to believe they have no choice but to go through the process. Many people wish to avoid the expense and hassles of traditional divorce litigation but do not know how. Couples who think they agree on how to divide property and how to cooperate in the care of children may also think that they can save time and money with a low-cost "do-it-yourself" (DIY) divorce, with no lawyer involved.
How you break the news to your children can make a big difference in how they cope with the separation or divorce, as can the conduct between spouses during the process.