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Do I Have Too Much Debt to Divorce My Spouse

George Simons | August 16, 2022

Divorce is stressful enough. Here's what you should know about divorce and debt.

Summary: If you're dealing with divorce, you might be wondering how debt will affect the process. Here is SoloSuit's guide on everything divorce and debt-related.

Dealing with debt amid divorce isn't easy. Unfortunately, you may not be free from the financial obligations of mutual loans and joint credit cards despite successfully ending your relationship with your ex-spouse. For example, if your ex-spouse defaults payment on a joint credit card after divorce, your credit will suffer the same impact as theirs.

In addition, splitting assets and liabilities during divorce also takes a toll on your finances. As a result, your debt responsibility may become greater than it was during your marriage.

Debt shouldn't stand in your way of seeking a divorce despite the challenges it comes with. This article shares a few strategies to protect your properties and manage your debts during divorce. Here's everything you need to know.

The court splits the debt during divorce

During a divorce, the court splits the couple's properties and debts as per the state's laws. Although these laws differ, some factors influence how the court splits a couple's debts. These factors include:

  • The type of debt.
  • The laws of the state.

Now, let's break down both of these factors in detail.

The type of debt

In most states, debts are classified depending on whether the couple acquired them before or during the marriage. Generally, if one spouse acquired a debt before the marriage took place, it will be considered separate debt. As a result, that spouse will be solely responsible for paying the debt after the divorce.

On the other hand, debts acquired during the marriage are called marital or community debts and are subject to an equal split during the divorce. So, for example, if the couple acquired a joint credit card during the marriage, they'll be mutually responsible for paying off the balances on these debts.

However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule about debt division during divorce. These exceptions vary depending on the laws of a state. For example, most states consider gambling debts incurred by one spouse in a marriage as a separate debt that can't be equitably split during a divorce. Similarly, if the couple obtains a joint credit card before getting married, it will be treated as a community debt that's subject to an equitable split during the divorce.

The laws of the state

Property and debt division also depends on whether the state is an equitable distribution or a community property state. In the equitable states, the court splits debt depending on their fair judgment on the case. For example, the judge may assign more debt obligations to the spouse who earns more income or obtains a larger share of property after the divorce.

On the other hand, the court splits debt incurred after marriage equally between the couple in community states. This rule also applies to debts incurred by one spouse during the marriage. However, the judge may bypass the 50-50 split rule under certain circumstances.

Although the court divides the debt responsibilities between a divorcing couple, the divorce decree doesn't cancel the original debt agreement. As a result, the creditor can still pursue you to pay off debt even if the court rules that your ex-spouse should be responsible for it.

Debt Relief Options Before Divorce

Splitting debts and properties during divorce can become complicated. For this reason, you should consider these debt relief options reduce the debt burden after divorce:

  • Settle the debts before the divorce.
  • Consider debt consolidation.
  • File for bankrupcty.

Settle the debts before the divorce

Paying off your debts significantly eases the debt burdens during a divorce. You and your spouse can agree to amicably settle any debt balances on joint credit accounts and other joint debts out of court. In addition, you should also resolve your debts that you acquired separately before or during the marriage.

Consider debt consolidation

Debt Consolidation allows you to remove your name from a jointly-owned debt and its responsibility. This solution is effective under specific circumstances. For example, if you have a jointly-owned credit card but don't use the card as often as your partner.

File for bankruptcy

If you're worried about large debt balances, you may consider filing for bankruptcy. However, there are several factors you must consider before taking this decision.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may file for bankruptcy before, during, or after the divorce. Filing for bankruptcy before divorce makes property division easier because the court doesn't have to divide debts discharged in bankruptcy.

Divorce and Debt FAQs

Here are answers to commonly asked questions regarding divorce and debt.

How do I know who is responsible for a specific debt before divorce?

The responsibility of debt is guided by the laws of a state and the debt agreement. Typically, you'll be responsible for a debt if you sign an agreement with the lending company, even if your partner pays it. In addition, if the court assigns the debt to your partner during the divorce, it doesn't overrule the debt agreement. As a result, the credit company has the right to pursue you for forfeited payments.

What if my ex doesn't pay a joint debt after divorce?

If your ex-spouse doesn't pay his part of a joint debt after a divorce, your credit will suffer the consequences too. For this reason, your priority should be to protect your credit from damages.

The best solution is to pay off the default and keep the payment transaction records. Next, request the court reinforce the divorce decree and order your ex to re-reimburse you for paying off their debt default.

Is a credit card debt split in divorce?

If a credit card is in your name, you'll be held responsible for paying it off after your divorce. If you have a joint credit card, the court will most likely consider it a mutual responsibility between you and your ex-partner.

What happens if my ex spouse files for bankruptcy after divorce?

If your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy after divorce, the creditor will exempt them from paying a debt, including mutually-owned debts such as joint credit cards. However, the creditor will require you to clear the entire balance of the mutually-owned debt, even if the court assigned the debt to your ex-spouse.

Respond to a debt collection lawsuit

Dealing with divorce is stressful enough, and having it coupled with a debt collection lawsuit may feel overwhelming. If you're in the middle of a divorce, you're probably spending a pretty penny on attorney fees and costs. If you've been sued for a debt on top of that, you can save the money and stress of finding an attorney and represent yourself with SoloSuit's help.

The first step to beating debt collectors in court is to respond to the lawsuit with a written Answer. You have up to 35 days to respond, depending on which state you live in. If you ignore the case, a default judgment will be granted to the debt collectors which allows them to garnish your wages and seize your property. Defend yourself by filing a written Answer with the court and sending a copy to the collectors suing you.

SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt lawsuit in less than 15 minutes.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James


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