My spouse is a great person, but careless. I am what many would call overly cautious. If my spouse's carelessness causes an accident (spouse is walking the dog and the dog knocks an old lady down, or spouse hits someone in the car), am I responsible for any legal (financial or otherwise) fallout?

I assume this varies by state, but I wonder about the general case, because we change states often.

  • There seems to be an implicit assertion that you and your wife have completely distinct finances. Which sounds bizarre to me. If someone sues your wife and wins a million dollars, say, is it your expectation that every penny of that has to come from her income and property, while you get to sit around with your own loot pile and not expect courts to rule she has a claim to it or for you to get promptly divorced for leaving her out to dry? And there's a huge legal distinction between "doggy mishap" and "hitting someone with a car". There's a whole industry insuring against the latter. Apr 24, 2018 at 2:48
  • @zibadawatimmy Why are you saying wife? There's no gender stated in the question.
    – mkennedy
    Apr 24, 2018 at 23:31
  • @mkennedy Coin flip. Apr 25, 2018 at 1:55

2 Answers 2


You are not legally responsible for your spouse’s acts or omissions.

However, in most jurisdictions most assets of a married couple are legally jointly held which means any judgement against your spouse exposes the jointly held assets.


If your finances are common property which is common under marriage then you are financially mutally responsible. If on the other hand you have filed to have your own property and assets, then you are probaby not. But you would have to thoroughly prove that your assets have not been made common between you two. And a plaintiff attorney will likely try to prove that some of your assets are mutual by finding any documentation in the past of having any mutual assets such as shared credit cards, mortgages or financial accounts. In the event that he can find any mutually used assets, it could disprove independent and separate finances unless your defense is strong enough to indicate otherwise.

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