Unfortunately, at the time a divorce is finalized an individual can encounter new and unanticipated financial obligations. Any debt that was incurred during the marriage and will not be paid off at the time of divorce needs to be addressed in the parties’ settlement agreement. It is important that any written settlement reached between the divorcing parties be thorough and clear as to which of the parties is responsible for a particular debt and how and when that person will satisfy that debt. Unfortunately, at the time a divorce is finalized an individual can encounter new and unanticipated financial obligations. Any debt that was incurred during the marriage and will not be paid off at the time of divorce needs to be addressed in the parties’ settlement agreement. It is important that any written settlement reached between the divorcing parties be thorough and clear as to which of the parties is responsible for a particular debt and how and when that person will satisfy that debt.

The entry of a divorce judgment does not alleviate the joint responsibility for a joint debt. As an example, should one party agree to pay the balance due on a joint credit card debt in its entirety, and then fail to subsequently do so, the credit card company can pursue its claim against both of the individuals named on the account. The creditor is not bound by any agreement made between the divorced parties.

Additionally if payments are late or not made, the Lender or the bank that provided the credit can report negative information to the credit reporting companies.This can affect not only the credit rating of the party who was responsible to make the payments but possibly the other party as well.

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The Family Law Practice Group at Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper has extensive experience in resolving divorce matters and negotiating settlement agreements that protect our clients to the fullest extent possible from experiencing these types of post-divorce debt issues.

  • There are several steps that can be taken to help protect yourself and your credit before, during and after a divorce:
  • In any divorce settlement, attempt to close or separate any type of joint account that exists or may have existed during the marriage. Establish your own individual checking and savings account.
  • Eliminate any joint debt between the two of you or minimize the debt as much as possible.
  • If the other party is assuming ownership of jointly owned real estate, make certain that you are not responsible for any mortgages or other liens against the real estate in which you will no longer have an ownership interest.
  • During the period of time when you are negotiating your divorce settlement with your spouse, be certain that payments are being made on all accounts even if they are the monthly minimum amounts due.
  • If you have not established credit in your individual name during the marriage, it is a good idea to do so by obtaining even a small line of credit or credit card (even if a co-signer is necessary) and be certain to pay any and all charges on such an account on time. Once a repayment history is established you can seek an increase from the credit card  company.
  • Check your credit score and consider enrolling in credit monitoring to be certain there are no incorrect entries or changes in your score.

At Lindabury, McCormick, Estabrook & Cooper, our practice includes diverse experience in areas of debtor/creditor rights, real estate and tax law which are often needed by our Family Law clients.

If you have questions or would like to speak with an experienced Family Law attorney please contact James McGlew II, Esq at 908-233-6800 or via email at jmcglew@lindabury.com. All inquiries are strictly confidential.