How Can I Protect Myself from Unwanted Marital Debt During Divorce?

Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton property division attorneyDuring your divorce, you and your spouse will need to address the ownership of all the property and assets you own together, and this will also include dividing marital debts. As long as debt was incurred during the marriage, it is the responsibility of each spouse, and it must be divided equitably and fairly between the spouses.

What Types of Debts Are Considered Marital Debt?

In general, any debt incurred by either spouse during a marriage is considered to be marital debt. Such marital debt may include:

  • Credit cards

  • Loans

  • Mortgages

One thing to note is that your lawyer might be able to make a convincing case that some debts which appear to be marital debts should not actually be your obligation, because they were taken on for the sole benefit of the other spouse. For example, if your ex-spouse made large credit card purchases while pursuing an extramarital affair, he or she may be solely responsible for these debts.

Precautions to Take Against Post-Divorce Debt Issues

One of the most important things to know about post-divorce debt is that lenders do not usually view marital debt any differently from a debt you took on for yourself. In fact, most lenders do not even recognize divorce agreements. The original loan agreement is all that matters to them. Someone will need to pay the debt, and both of you will be held responsible for paying it off, especially if you two signed for it together. To avoid being pursued by creditors for debts that should be your spouse’s responsibility, you can take some precautions, such as:

  • Pay off as much of your marital debt as possible before the divorce. This will make the divorce process much less difficult, and it will be a relief for both of you to have those debts resolved.

  • Once you decide to get a divorce, close all your joint accounts to prevent either of you from running up charges.

  • Stay vigilant about tracking your accounts and your credit report even after the divorce. You need to make sure that the debts are being paid, especially the ones for which you are both responsible.

  • If it is decided that only one of you will be responsible for a debt that was originally in both spouses’ names, this debt should be refinanced only in the name of the spouse who will be responsible for the debt. This will ensure that the lender will not pursue the other spouse for the debt if the responsible spouse becomes delinquent.

  • If you are concerned that your spouse will not pay debts as required in the divorce agreement, consider including an indemnity clause that will enable you to take your ex-spouse to court for any unpaid debts.

Contact a DuPage County Debt Division Attorney

Just as property division can be a complicated topic in Illinois divorces, so is debt division. With a knowledgeable Wheaton divorce lawyer on your side, you can negotiate a settlement that will allow you to maintain financial stability following the conclusion of your divorce case. Reach out to the Andrew Cores Family Law Group today at 630-871-1002 to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can help you address marital debts and other legal issues during your divorce.


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