A creditor can seize the property of spouses who have not signed a marriage contract
Each spouse can spend alone the contracts that are related to the maintenance of the family or the education of the children. But the debts that arise from these contracts are due by both spouses, including those who have not signed: these are the “household debts”. Specifically, it involves the registration of a child in a private school or sports club, rent, condominium fees, the mutual, the telephone line, electricity, gas, water, etc.
For these expenses, the creditor has the choice: he can ask the totality of the payment to the spouse who signed or to the other. This is usually the case when the one who is engaged is insolvent, while the other one works and has incomes …
But there are three exceptions to this rule. The first, when the expense is “obviously excessive” compared to the lifestyle of the couple. In this case, it is the husband who is committed and he alone who must pay, although it was made for the benefit of the family. In case of difficulty, the courts assess on a case-by-case basis whether the expenditure is obviously excessive or not, depending on the household income and the usefulness of the purchase. For example, on January 25, 2000, the Rouen Court of Appeal found that the purchase of a second car was excessive in relation to a household’s income …
The second exception is when a spouse subscribes to a credit alone. He must repay it alone unless the loan is for small amounts necessary for the needs of the household’s daily life. The court of appeal of Grenoble estimated on December 4, 2000, that a loan of 23 000 euros for the purchase of a kitchen is not a modest sum.
The third exception concerns credit purchases made by one spouse. Whatever their usefulness and importance, they are only due to the one who made them. The partners of a PACS are also responsible for the debts made for the “expenses of the current life”: a concept close to the household debts. As for married couples, only the one who commits is responsible for credit purchases, loans, and obviously excessive expenses. On the other hand, for cohabiting couples, everyone is responsible for their debts in all cases, even if they were made in the interest of the family.
Married but not too
As for the personal expenses of one or the other of the spouses, they must be paid by the person who makes the purchase or who goes into debt to do so. These expenses are all those that are not used by the family. It can be an investment, a professional purchase, a leisure expense … The creditor can claim the payment of these purchases only to the spouse who made the expense. A principle that must be qualified according to the marital regime of the couple.
In the case of a legal community – without a marriage contract – the creditor has the right to seize the property of the committed spouse, but also the property of the couple. On the other hand, he can not demand the salary of the spouse who has not committed himself or his personal property.
Married couples under the separation of property regime are better protected against creditors since there are then only two heritages: that of the husband and that of the wife. The creditor of one of the spouses can only seize the personal property of the latter and not the commons because … they do not exist … This is the reason why this scheme is chosen by the couples one of whom is, for example, a trader or entrepreneur. But debts made “in the interest of the family” must always be paid by both …