Should my ex-partner be responsible for my debts?

Question Details: I bought a house with my partner of 4 years and now we are splitting up. I’ve got a whole lot of debts I didn’t tell her about and she is now saying she won’t pay for them as they are nothing to do with her. What are my rights?

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Answers by Lawyers

Community Law Wellington & Hutt Valley

It is possible that your ex-partner will not be responsible for your debts, but to work that out you will need to assess what type of debts you have.

Under the law of relationship property, debts are separated into two categories: personal debts and relationship debts. Personal debts benefit just one person, and relationship debts are for both of you. For example, a debt for a shared holiday might be a relationship debt, but a debt for your boat you bought secretly and hid away might be personal debt.

Personal debts are the responsibility of the person who incurred them. So if your ex-partner had absolutely nothing to do with those debts, she might not be responsible for sharing them.

Read more about relationship property law on the Community Law website: and the Family Court website:

To get some legal advice about your particular situation and how the law applies, you can find a local family lawyer here:

Answered 18 May 2012. The IMPORTANT NOTICE below is part of this answer.

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