In Pennsylvania, when divorcing, you will need to divide your marital debt and assets. While assets are difficult to divide, debts are even harder. No one likes debts. No one wants to roger up to take it on and pay it – especially if you don’t believe you used the money or was party to its benefit. Deciding who will be on the hook for debt is like being left without a chair when the music stops. Once your divorce is finalized, a divorce decree will be issued. In it, the judge will outline how the marital property is to be split. It’s easy for the deed to a house to be redrawn or for a piece of fine art to change owners, but it’s not so simple when it comes to reassigning debt.
Creditors and Divorce
Creditors enter into payment arrangements when accounts are created, and those arrangements do not end because of your divorce. So, if marital debt with your name attached became the sole debt of your spouse, you may need to decide how willing you are to trust it will be paid as agreed. From the creditor’s vantage point, you are still legally responsible for the debt.
Tips for Keeping Debt Allocations Equitable
You and your spouse both want the same thing – to leave the marriage without falling into financial ruin. An unfair financial settlement could leave you both bankrupt and waiting for many years to move on with your new life.
- Begin Separating Credit Card Debt: If you have joint debts, like authorized user credit cards, you can start working on single-owner balance transfers. You and your spouse need to agree on an amount and work to divide up the debt accordingly. If the credit card debt isn’t equally divided between cards, then one spouse should make a cash payment to the other spouse for the difference.
- Transfer Titles and Refinance: Cars, like your home, are both an asset and a debt if not paid off with the lender. You should work with your spouse to decide who will keep which car and transfer titles, and refinance any debt to a sole owner.
- Consider Selling Your Home: Depending on the market, your best bet with your home may be to sell it. A home is a large debt that one spouse may not be able to refinance without the other, leaving you both on the hook for payments after the marriage is over. To create a blank slate and to eliminate any financial entanglements, you may need to sell your home. This is especially true if the spouse assigned the debt cannot afford to refinance the home alone.
The long and short of the matter is that creditors do not care much about what is stated in a divorce decree. If your name is on the debt, you could still be on the hook to make those payments or face ruined credit. Hiring an attorney can help you and your spouse divide assets and debts equitably without creating a conflictual environment. Let the Cairns Law Group help you; call us today at (888) 863-9115 to schedule a consultation.