Married to someone self-employed? You could be liable for their debts

If you are married in communion of goods, then you could be liable for the debts run up by your self-employed partner

The responsibility incurred by a self-employed person is universal – their debts are secured by the entirety of their property and assets. There is no limitation of responsibility.

Romance is lovely, but always check the financial long term implications!

And this universal responsibility extends to the assets of their partner, when married in communion of goods.

Although most British marriages are under the separation of property regime, the default matrimonial regime for Spain and many other European nations is for assets and liabilities to be pooled upon marriage.

This means that if your partner runs up debts they are unable to service, creditors are entitled to seize your assets in lieu of your spouse’s debts.

Take action before the business venture

One way to protect essential assets for the family is to change the matrimonial regime before starting your new business venture. You can split assets between the spouses (separación de bienes) via Notarial deed, although this may incur tax liabilities. You can also apply for this matrimonial regime when marriage is contracted.

Also note that if this change is carried out shortly before debts are embargoed, your creditors may argue that the separation of goods was a wilful attempt to avoid repayment of the debt and apply for it to be overturned.

Maria Luisa

María Luisa Cervantes is a chartered accountant who graduated from the University of Granada in 2002. Founder of Cervantes Alarcón Consulting, she is an experienced accountant and financial advisor who is a member of the Almería guild of economists. With more than 15 years of experience in business administration and international trade, she is also a subject matter expert in the UK - Spanish bilateral agreements which cover the rights of expats to live, work and retire in Spain.