Divorce and Debt

“I Do.” Two of the most magical and meaningful words a couple can say to one another. Their significance binds them together in a matrimony that is holy, perpetual, and permanent. When a couple takes marriage vows they enter into a covenant relationship. The nature of a covenant is such that even if one party does not uphold one side of the commitment, the other party is still fully responsible for upholding the other side. Both parties become fully committed and essentially become one. Everything is shared. These details are just some of the benefits that many couples dream about and look forward to upon crossing the threshold from the land of affiance into matrimony. In many cases, the story ends very much like the fairy tales we read as children; happily ever after.

But, in some cases the opposite is also true. According to the American Psychological Association, forty to fifty percent of couples who marry end up divorced. The percentages for subsequent marriages are even higher. While the dissolution of a union is an unfortunate end, it has become more and more prevalent in recent years. Pairs deciding to go their separate ways are no longer startled or despondent. Rather, duos who have decided on divorce commonly plough forward with nonchalant attitudes as if the spit is inconsequential. Divorce, however, can have an alarming impact on finances, credit scores, assets, and the financial futures of both of the individuals involved.

In every divorce, an important part of the divorce judgement involves dividing up the couple’s debt and assets. The specifics will vary by state, but, the divorce decree will detail exactly what debts each party is responsible for. This, however, is where divorce and splitting debt becomes tricky. While a divorce decree will outline the specifics of what debts each individual is responsible to pay, dealing with creditors is a completely different matter.

In a divorce judgement, the court is responsible for dividing the couple’s assets and debts. Through this process, the court will specifically indicate who is responsible for paying which bills while money and property is also divided. It is most common for the court to attempt to divide debts and assets in the most equitable way. However, debts and assets are commonly used to balance one another. A spouse who receives a larger share of property may also be held responsible for a larger share of the couple’s shared debt.

Joint accounts often remain an issue with divorced couples because the divorce decree is an agreement between the two previously married individuals, not the creditor. As such, the original agreement with the creditor still stands, holding both parties accountable for the debt. While you may have a judgement ordering your spouse to pay a specific debt, if it is not paid you may still be held liable. Any late or missed payments by your ex will still hurt your credit.

Trying to divide debt in a way that is fair and agreeable can quickly complicate and add difficulty to a divorce. The process of dividing assets and debts also does exactly the opposite of what the couple is attempting to do by filing for a divorce as it keeps ex-spouses connected at the very point at which they wish to be separated the most. In an ideal circumstance, the two would do all they can to clear up outstanding debts before filing or during the process of divorce. However, if you find yourself holding the bag after the divorce is final, despite a court order instructing your ex-partner to pay, your best bet is to get legal help to force them to live up to the terms the divorce decree.

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