No one wants to be responsible for someone else’s financial neglect. Unfortunately, that’s what many Columbus spouses experience when they agree to share marital debt rather than make a clean financial break during divorce. You may trust a former spouse will live up to the bargain, but how can you be sure he or she will?
The best way to view finances is through creditors’ eyes. Lenders don’t care about personal relationships as much as debtors’ ability to pay. Loans and credit issued in two names make both parties responsible for the debt, no matter how bills are divvied up in settlements.
Let’s say you obtain the marital home in divorce, with the understanding your ex will still pay half the mortgage, repairs and taxes. What are you going to do if your former spouse won’t or can’t live up to the agreement? You may have to pay the entire mortgage, take a painful credit rating hit or forfeit the house after foreclosure.
Financial and legal advisers suggest dissolving financial ties that bind you to an ex-spouse. You can’t predict how a former husband or wife will feel or act, once the divorce is finalized. Future ill health, unemployment or a change of heart can compel an ex to violate a divorce settlement’s terms.
Selling off assets to clear marital debt is time consuming. Some spouses also worry sales won’t cover bills. A loss is a possibility, but the debt is a known quantity.
You may recover from financial troubles you see coming. It’s much harder to cope when you don’t anticipate them. You may be shocked later when a former spouse simply stops paying “shared” bills.
Unpaid joint debts are the same before and after marriage. You are responsible for debt attached to your name. If you’re already mired in post-divorce financial troubles, talk with a consumer credit counselor and an attorney about options.
Source: Fox Business, “After Divorce, Ex Leaves Joint Debts Unpaid” Sally Herigstad, CreditCards.com, Feb. 28, 2014