Division of debt can be even trickier than the property and assets. It’s not always all that clear-cut; who bought what gets muddy over time, not to mention that big debt like a house or car was often a joint decision.
As I mentioned before, my ex created significant debt and did not make payments on it. It was apparently a weird scheme on his part to encourage me to come back to him, supposing that being in deep debt, I would come running to him to solve the nancial problems.
Do yourself a BIG favor — don’t just know where you stand, know where you BOTH stand. Pull your credit reports, uncover which debt will be assigned to you and which will be assigned to your spouse, and what falls to both of you. This may take some sleuthing on your part if your spouse handles the bills. Depending on your current relationship, you may just ask to see the accounts. Otherwise, you may need to do a bit more digging.
Stop growing your debt ASAP! Cancel your cards and make sure you include this information in your divorce papers. As soon as you file for divorce, your responsibility for debt incurred by your spouse stops.
Knowledge is power. Just lifting the weights isn’t good enough. You’ve got to be lifting the BIG weights. Those little pink one-pounders are not enough to get you the strength you need. You’re going to have to push yourself.
Now that you know how much debt you have, and you’ve taken steps to stop acquiring more, you need to gure out how to divvy up the debt. There are a few ways to go about this:
- Pay off the debt NOW. If possible, just get rid of it. If you have assets you can sell or money you can tap into, do so. You will have a clean break, no worries of the debt hanging over your head as you try to start a new life.
- Agree to take on the debt in exchange for more property.
- Your spouse takes on the debt, and you give up more property.
- You agree to divide the debt equally.
Keep in mind that regardless of what your divorce decree may say regarding who is responsible for the debt, in the eyes of your creditors you are both equally responsible for the debt you acquired during your marriage. They don’t care what that piece of paper says—they want their money!