In addition to dividing marital property, your divorce settlement can also split up your marital debt so you and your spouse are each responsible for paying off a certain amount. However, a court decree might not be enough to protect you from paying off more debt even after your divorce is complete.
According to U.S. News and World Report, you could end up on the hook for payments that your ex-spouse fails to make in spite of your divorce decree.
Why creditors may collect from you
While a divorce settlement can describe debt responsibilities for each spouse, it does not change the agreements you and your spouse have made with creditors. Your signature on a contract is what matters to a credit card issuer, a bank or any creditor you have taken out a loan from.
For example, if your ex decides not to mail any more payments on a jointly owned credit card, the card company will take note of your name on the account and hold you responsible for the missed payments. Creditors may also contact you if your former spouse defaults on paying back a loan that you had co-signed during your marriage.
Taking additional steps to protect yourself
Your divorce settlement may be only one step in dividing your debt. Any agreement you signed that requires you to guarantee a loan could come back to haunt you. You might try to remove your name from joint accounts or co-signed loans if possible. Closing out a joint credit card account or refinancing a home mortgage to remove your name are additional possibilities.
These steps may complicate your divorce to some degree. Still, they can be worth it if you do not have to worry about financial burdens as you build your post-divorce life.