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Am I Responsible For My Spouse’s Loan In A Divorce?

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Divorce is a common occurrence. Hundreds of thousands of people go through a divorce every year. Divorce is a particularly stressful event—emotionally and financially. Many people worry about splitting assets, but they should also be concerned about debts as well. It is rare for a couple to divorce debt-free, so it’s important that couples understand how debts should be repaid when the marriage ends.

Divorcing with credit card debt? Does your spouse have a personal loan? Depending on when the debts occurred and where you live, you may be on the hook for repayment. Read on to learn about the debt payment laws that apply in your specific situation.

Determining Loan Liability in a Divorce

Did you or your spouse take out a personal loan before you got married? If so, then the person who took out the loan is solely responsible for the debt. The loan would not be considered marital in nature, so if you’ve been stressing out about the huge loan your husband took out before you said “I do,” then chances are, you won’t have to worry about repaying it.

However, if the debt occurred while you two were married, that’s when things get a little more complicated. You and your spouse will have to split the debt, but the degree of division depends on where you live. There are equitable distribution states and community property states.

In community property states like California, debts and assets are typically split 50/50. In equitable distribution states like Florida, however, assets and debts are split fairly. Fair does not necessarily equate to 50/50, however. The split may be 60/40, 70/30 or even 80/20, based on the salaries and earning potential of each partner. If one spouse was the primary caregiver for a child, that will also be taken into consideration.

It’s important to understand that lenders are not bound by divorce agreements. Even if one spouse agrees to pay off the debt and even puts this agreement in writing, the lender is not bound to it. Lenders follow the original loan agreement, which means that if you co-signed for the loan, for example, then you still be on the hook for repayment, regardless of the divorce agreement. This is something you really need to take into consideration, because if your partner agrees to continue making the payments on the loan, but instead defaults on the loan, your credit score will be impacted. Creditors have the right to contact you to pay off the balance.

If your spouse does not abide by the divorce agreement, you can take him or her to court. However, this is time-consuming and costly. If your partner cannot afford to make the payments, there is nothing you can do to force him or her to pay up.

Seek Help for Your Divorce

While many couples focus on asset division in a divorce, there needs to be some discussion about distribution of debt as well. Sometimes parties are responsible for the debt of their partners as well, which can come as a surprise.

If you have concerns about how your ex-spouse’s debt will affect you, seek help from a legal professional. The Dade City family law attorneys at Mander Law Group can help you understand the laws that apply to you in terms of loan repayment in the event of a divorce. To learn more, schedule a consultation by contacting us at (800) 557-0411.

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