If we live together as spouses, will we be obligated to pay each other's debt?

If we live together as spouses, will we be obligated to pay each other's debt?
Posted date: 22/06/2021

I and Mr. Nam have lived together as spouses for 2 years. However, we have not registered the marriage. In early 2020, Mr. Nam told me that he needed an amount of money for investing in a project. I lent him my money. After that, around June 2020, Mr. Nam told me that his project was not successful and he was still owed 200 million dongs and unable to pay. A month later, Mr. Nam went somewhere that I haven’t known.

Currently, some creditors come to collect Mr. Nam's debt and ask me to pay the debt. I told them that I am not Mr. Nam's wife and did not use Mr. Nam's money, but these people still threatened me. I want to be advised if I am obligated to repay Mr. Nam.

FDVN Opinion:

According to Article 9 of Law on Marriage and family 2014 on marriage registration:

“1. A marriage shall be registered with a competent state agency in accordance with this Law and the law on civil status.

A marriage that is not registered under this Clause is legally invalid.

2. A divorced couple who wish to re-establish their husband and wife relation shall register their re-marriage.”

According to Clause 7, Article 3 of Law on Marriage and family 2014 thì “Cohabitation as husband and wife means a man and a woman’s organization of their living together and consideration of themselves as husband and wife.”

Thus, living together as spouses means a man and a woman’s organization of their living together and consideration of themselves as husband and wife. However, cohabitation as husband and wife is only recognized when the marriage is registered.

In your case, you and Mr. Nam live together as spouses. However, you and Mr. Nam have not registered your marriage under the laws. So, you and Mr. Nam are not legal spouses.

According to Clause 1, Article 14 of Law on Marriage and family 2014 on the settlement of consequences of men and women cohabiting as husband and wife without marriage registration:

“1. A man and woman eligible for getting married under this Law who cohabits as husband and wife without registering their marriage have no rights and obligations between husband and wife. Rights and obligations toward their children, property, obligations, and contracts between the partners must comply with Articles 15 and 16 of this Law.”

Thus, a man and a woman cohabitate as husband and wife not registering the marriage shall not be responsible as a spouse. In case the debt is owed by Mr. Nam and you borrowed nothing from the creditors, you are not obliged to repay the debt for Mr. Nam.

Lawyer Mai Quốc Việt – FDVN Law Firm


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