People don’t like to focus on their debts. But during a divorce situation, it is something soon-to-be former spouses have to discuss. Since Missouri is an equitable distribution state, each individual normally takes care of the debt incurred in his or her own name — although that is not always the case. It can become rather complicated when there are joint debts or if a family court judge orders one spouse to pay the other’s debt.
Not quite off the hook
Just because a judge may have ordered a spouse to pay the other spouse’s debt doesn’t necessarily mean the nonpaying spouse can just walk away from the situation. The person may still have to deal with creditors such as credit card companies, banks, mortgage lenders and the like. They are not required to adhere to a divorce settlement. The name of the spouse who is legally responsible for the debt must be taken off the debt or else he or she remains legally responsible.
What happens if one spouse declares bankruptcy?
Both spouses may be held responsible for debts if debts are held jointly or if those debts are agreed to be assumed in the divorce. Debts from the divorce may not be allowed to be discharged in a bankruptcy situation. In any case, all joint accounts held by the spouses should be closed. Each person needs to take the steps to protect him or herself.
Weigh the options
Before agreeing to anything regarding debts in a divorce, it would be a wise idea to speak with a Missouri attorney to understand the consequences of dividing debts and/or taking on the debts of the other spouse. A lawyer is able to provide information on rights and legal options in this and other areas.