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In case, you have irreconcilable differences with your spouse and heading for a divorce, you and your spouse need to settle all the debts and liabilities in a legal settlement in court. These debts cover car loans, credit card loans, mortgages, home equity and other types of consumer loans you incur. In case, both of you are owners of a small business; you should clear all personal guarantees that both of you have taken during the tenure of the business. This should be done to secure any account that is payable to the small business.
Heading for a divorce – what should you do?
If you are heading for a divorce, you should consider all the debts that you have in your name, the name of your spouse and the loans that have been taken by you and your spouse jointly. The loans you take affect your marital estate in two ways- the debt will reduce the gross value of those assets in your name and increases the costs of the individual who is responsible for the payment of the loan. All of the loans or the debts incurred at the time of the marriage that has not been paid or assigned to the individual responsible for its payment will create complications later. Both spouses or one of the spouses will be affected post-divorce.
Understand the laws of the State
The laws of the State differ when it comes to marriage and divorce. They will determine which of the marriage partners is liable for the repayment of debts and loans incurred. The laws of the state will also determine which of the two marriage partners are responsible for the payment of debts. The court needs to decide on the purpose of the debt, who is liable for repayment etc. Again, the repayment of debts should be made by both the spouses if you live in a state that is a community property state. You should also check and be aware of the laws of the state when it comes to the elimination of debts. Remember, repayment of the debt is not enough. You need to know that debts will influence every aspect of your divorce and this covers child support, a division of property, spousal support and more.
What about debts are taken jointly?
A joint debt is generally the responsibility of both the spouses to the marriage. The same applies post-divorce as well. The creditor is not concerned about how the judgment of the divorce is made, he or she wants the repayment of the outstanding debt by both the parties to the divorce. A common example of the above situation is when both the spouses have a credit card, and one of them is using it after the separation. It is understood that the spouse who did not use the credit card to make purchases should not be held liable to make the payment. However, credit card companies will seek repayment from both spouses if the repayment is not made.
What about debt consolidation?
Parties to the divorce should consider debt consolidation of all their debts and liabilities before the divorce. There are instances where the parties to the divorce have many loans to pay off. Debt consolidation is the process via which all the debts are clubbed under a single loan for repayment. There are debt consolidation companies that help parties to a divorce to repay their debts gradually over a period of time. If you and your spouse are looking for debt consolidation, you should carefully read the debt consolidation reviews of the different companies before you make your choice. Experts of these companies say there are two ways via which you can clear joint debts. The payment of the debt should be assigned to the spouse who is more financially responsible, or both of you should take steps to pay off the financial debts before the divorce is settled. Again, there are times when the creditor can release the spouse who is not accountable for the credit card bills incurred.
Debt assignments for spouses
Parties to the divorce need to be aware of the assignment of the debts for payments. They need to consider the security or the obligation for the debt. For instance, if the security is a car, the spouse who has the car is accountable for repayment of the debt. In case, the debt is a charge for a credit card or a signature loan that is not secured by a property; it is generally assigned to the person who is more financially capable of paying the debt. In case, you do not wish to take complete responsibility for the debt and think that your ex-spouse will not pay for the debt, ensure you pay off the debt prior to the settlement of the divorce. In case, you or your spouse do not have enough money to pay off the debt; you have the option of selling off the asset to repay the debts in full. You can always use the proceeds that you have got from the sale to pay the debts completely. Once the debts have been paid, remember to take the receipts and keep them safe. This is proof that you have paid off the debt and needs to be produced in court.
What happens in the case of bankruptcy?
In the case of bankruptcy, divorce courts are empowered to assign the responsibility of payment of the debts to one of the spouses. The courts generally release the ex-spouse from paying the debt. In case one of the spouses has taken debt from another spouse and not in a position to repay the debt, a petition for bankruptcy has to be filed. The courts of law will then decide the case.
Therefore, when spouses have irreconcilable differences, and they are unable to continue with the marriage, it is prudent for both of them to settle all pending debts they have between them before the divorce. Debt consolidation is an effective way to consolidate all debts and repay them gradually with the passage of time!