Unless you take extra steps to protect yourself, ditching debt after a divorce from jointly held cards is difficult. Credit card companies aren’t bound by divorce decrees, so they can go after you for jointly incurred debt if your former spouse doesn’t pay.
This is why divorce attorneys, financial planners and credit counselors recommend that you leave your marriage with no joint debt. By either paying off the joint cards together or dividing up the debt on joint cards and transferring it to cards in each partner’s name, the goal is to remove your liability for your partner’s debts. It’s also important to inventory your wallet and make sure all joint credit cards are canceled during the divorce process.
The consequences of going into your new life with jointly held debt are potentially painful: Should your ex file for bankruptcy or just not pay what he or she is supposed to pay, your creditors can go after you for the full amount of the debt, plus interest and penalties. You can include provisions in the divorce agreement to force your ex to pay up, but going back to court is expensive and time-consuming.
However, parties who are in default on credit cards or other debts may be able to negotiate lump-sum settlements. An experienced divorce attorney can help with this by assisting with creditor negotiations and by helping the client to identify sources of cash to fund settlements.
When one spouse assumes a debt bearing the other spouse’s name, a judgment should require the assuming spouse to attempt to remove the other spouse’s name from the debt. Judgments may include various security devices to ensure that a party actually pays the debts he or she has assumed. These devices include leins on other property awarded to the assuming spouse, life insurance to provide funds in case the assuming party dies, or the right to offset other obligations between the parties.
In addition to considering the total amount of debt, courts and attorneys must also consider cash flow. If a party assumes a debt that carries high payments, this may be a consideration in awarding or reducing spousal support. Under the Michigan Child Support Formula, one party’s assumption of joint debt is a factor that can support a deviation from the child support formula.
In regards to a mortgage, to remove one spouse’s liability from the mortgage, the property will either need to be sold, transferred/deeded or the mortgage refinanced or assumed. One can always choose to keep themselves on the mortgage, but this is a risky position if the other spouse happens to default on the loan.
Attorney Morris has enjoyed a very successful and distinguished career as a trial lawyer providing high quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for 20 years. He is known for his trial preparation by fellow attorneys, judges and clients alike. As a trial attorney, he is dedicated to attaining justice in every case, and is prepared to take on complex legal issues with success. Barton and his law firm pride themselves on obtaining results for their clients that other attorneys cannot.
Not only does Barton Morris have extensive experience, he also engages in continuing legal education to provide the highest quality legal services. Barton has received specialized scientific training through the American Chemical Society. He attended the prestigious Trial Lawyers College and serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors. Barton Morris is also a board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys, and the DUI Defense Lawyer’s Association Justice Foundation. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and has also graduated from their National Criminal Defense Trial College in Macon, Georgia.
Barton Morris was chosen as a Top Lawyer of Metro Detroit for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019 and 2020 for DUI/DWI and criminal defense by DBusiness Magazine and Hour Magazine. Barton Morris was also chosen as a Super Lawyer in Criminal Defense for 2014-2020 and Barton Morris is the only Lawyer in Michigan designated by the American Chemical Society as a “Forensic Lawyer-Scientist”