Can My Spouse Bind Me to a Contract Without My Consent?

As a general rule, if your spouse signs a contract in your name without your consent, you cannot be held liable for the contract. For a contract to be binding, it must represent a meeting of the minds between the contracting parties, and if you are not one of the contracting parties, chances are, you are not bound by the contract.

However, there are exceptions to this general rule.

First, if you grant your spouse a power of attorney that includes the ability to contract on your behalf, and that power of attorney has not expired or been revoked, then your spouse can bind you, but only because you previously gave your consent.

Additionally, in some circumstances you may ratify the agreement. If, subsequent to your spouse entering into an agreement in your name, you agree to its terms, then this ratification can act to bind you to the agreement.

Even if the contract itself is not binding, the contracting party may be able to recover against you under other legal principles. For example, if your spouse orders a service in your name, and you accept the service, even though you may have never communicated with the contracting party, you may be liable for unjust enrichment—a legal remedy that allows a party to recover the reasonable value of products or services in the absence of a contract.

Finally, because Nevada is a community property state, to the extent that a debt incurred by your spouse benefits both parties to the marriage, the creditor can satisfy the debt using not only your spouse’s separate assets, but also assets that belong to the community (which include most assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse acquired them).

In most cases, if your spouse enters an agreement in your name, it is probably done innocently. However, depending on the situation, it can also constitute fraud, for which there may be both criminal consequences and civil remedies.

Attorney Zachariah B. Parry understands the nuances of contract law, family law, and fraud. If you have questions, call him now at 702-879-9555.

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