As part of the division of property in divorce, the marital debt will also have to be split between the parties. The court will determine how this debt is to be split up when couples cannot come to an agreement on their own, and the final determinations will be detailed in the divorce decree.
Just because a divorce decree orders one party to repay certain debts, however, does not mean that:
- This party will, in fact, be diligent about repayment.
- The other party will be off of the hook for repayment, as creditors can legally still come after both parties associated with joint debts regardless of what the final divorce decree states.
So, what happens when an ex fails to live up to his or her obligations to repay certain marital debts following divorce? What are your options if this happens to you?
After Exes Default
If your ex has anchored you with the debt (s)he was supposed to cover as part of the terms of your divorce, some of your options for dealing with the situation include:
- Filing a motion with the court to indicate that an ex is violating a final divorce decree – The court can take further action, such as deeming someone in contempt, imposing fines, etc., when appropriate.
- Asking for a verification of the debt – Just because you were notified that you owe money on an ex’s debt does not make that debt valid (or the creditor legitimate). So request a verification of the debt.
- Paying it off – If the debt is legitimate and your ex has left you in lurch as the sole party that creditors can come after for repayment (because, for instance, (s)he has filed for bankruptcy), one option is to simply pay off the debt in full if you are able to. The longer you wait to take action, more interest will accrue, increasing the debt. If you can’t pay it off, however, consider either of the next options, which involve…
- Negotiating a settlement – Another possibility may be to try to work out a settlement with the creditor. These companies would rather get something (as opposed to losing out altogether), and they can be more willing to accept a settlement for less than the full amount of the debt when people are able to pay them off relatively soon (like within 30 to 60 days in some cases).
- Considering other debt relief options – If your divorce has left you as financially distressed as an ex who has defaulted on debt, it may be time to consider other professional debt relief options, such as bankruptcy. Discussing your situation with an attorney first is advisable.
Contact a Scottsdale Divorce Attorney at the Law Office of Karen A. Schoenau
When you are serious about protecting your interests in divorce, you can rely on Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Karen Schoenau. Since 1987, Karen Schoenau has been committed to helping people resolve their important family law matters, including complex cases related to divorce, custody, paternity, and other issues.
To receive professional advice and learn more about how we can help you, schedule an initial consultation with Attorney Karen Schoenau. You can set up this meeting by calling 480-467-3435 or by emailing us using the drop-down contact form at the top of this page.