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Does my divorce decree relieve me from debt obligations?

Debt is a tricky thing to settle during a divorce. The problem with debt is that you and your ex-spouse are not the only parties to that particular transaction. If you are having a dispute over the fondue fountain, then you and your spouse only need to deal with one another to settle the issue. However, when it is regarding debt, people often get divorced and do not even realize that creditors can go after anyone they want, depending on the kind of debt, to recover their investment. A creditor is not a party to your divorce, so they do not care what happened, they only want to get paid.

There are two kinds of debt that you can incur as a couple; individual and joint. Individual debt is just how it sounds; the creditor looks to your financial well-being to ascertain if you are worth an investment. You are the sole debtor and the sole person that the creditor may seek recovery from, assuming there are no authorized users on the account. Conversely, in a joint account, the creditor will look at the financial stability of you and your spouse. The benefit of joint credit is that it greatly increases your ability to secure a line of credit with favorable terms. The downside is that should you ever become divorced, the creditor can go after either person, regardless of the terms of the divorce.

This means that, if a creditor goes after you for a debt assigned to your ex-spouse in the divorce, then you must pay the debt. However, that does not mean that you cannot take legal steps to enforce the terms of the divorce agreement.

If you are going through a divorce, especially one involving multiple layers of debt, then you probably want to speak to a family law attorney. Dividing up your assets is complicated enough without throwing in the burden of paying down mortgages and lines of credit. Just make sure that you are aware of this wrinkle in the legal system. You do not want to be caught unawares by a creditor's phone call or letter.

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