If you have just ended a marriage or are considering filing for divorce, it is important to take into consideration the following word: Debt. If your spouse has racked up any amount of debt, you can be held liable for payments, no matter whose name the debt is in.
Phoenix resident Dolores Ferguson knows exactly what this is like after discovering that she is responsible for $2,000 in payday loan debt that she says is not hers.
Even though she signed a prenuptial agreement, Ferguson still received a court order garnishing her wages.
Too often, prenuptial agreements are misunderstood. While much debt that is accrued pre-marriage is covered through the prenuptial agreement, some federal debt loans such as student loans or payday loans are not subject to these agreements. Also, if there are any joint accounts in you and your spouse’s name, you are responsible for any debt from these accounts if your spouse does not pay.
Glendale Family Law attorneys at The Sampair Group know that there are many ways to avoid being on the hook for your ex-spouse’s debt after a divorce.
The first precaution to take is to know your debt. Be organized with all of your accounts including all personal loans and major credit cards. Before any more charges are racked up, it would be best to close or freeze any joint accounts. You should also get your credit score from all appropriate credit reporting agencies so you can keep track of any unexpected changes in this score. Keep up with these credits checks to make sure no additional charges are made on frozen accounts.
Throughout the divorce proceedings, do not neglect any bills that your name is attached to, even if you make minimum payments. If you find that your ex isn’t paying any of the bills on their part even after the divorce has been finalized, you may still have to make the minimum payments in order to avoid hurting your credit. Even before the divorce is finalized, make sure everything is paid for that has your name attached to it.
Another option, while it may not seem the most appealing, is to consider is filing for bankruptcy. This will discharge most of what you owe and make it possible to clear out any debt you have that has been incurred by your spouse. It is best to do this before you end the marriage rather than several months later so it can be a joint clearing of debt. If one spouse declares bankruptcy, more often than not it means the other party will have to declare as well since any credit card companies or other debtor will come after both parties for the payment, despite any reasons for your divorce.
If you are thinking of initiating a divorce and are concerned about being responsible for your spouse’s debt, a Phoenix divorce lawyer at The Sampair Group can help you with the necessary steps for your rights during the process.