Will I be responsible for my spouse’s debt if I get divorced?
It is possible that you may end up being responsible for debts that your spouse has incurred, especially if you do not take preventive action.
South Carolina is an equitable distribution state. This means that property is divided fairly in divorce. It does not mean it is divided equally. Property includes both assets and liabilities, such as debt.
How will debt be split in your divorce?
Will you be found liable for paying it?
The South Carolina judge considering your case should look at the following factors:
- The income of each spouse
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The need of you or your spouse for additional training or education to reach earning potential
- The physical and mental health of each spouse
- The non-marital property of each spouse
- Tax consequences
- Marital misconduct or fault as a factor contributing to the breakdown of the marriage
- Duration of the marriage
- Contributions of the parties
- Nonmarital property of each spouse
- Existence of a spousal support (alimony) award
- Use of the marital home
- Retirement benefits
- Encumbrances on the property and other debts
- Child custody obligations
How Can I Protect Myself?
One of the best ways to protect yourself is to pay off as much debt before you file for divorce.
Another important thing is to pursue full financial disclosure so that you are made aware of any and all debts, especially those you may not have been aware of.
After a divorce decree, it is important to remove your name from any debt that is not yours. A judge may order your spouse to pay a debt you both share. Vehicles and homes are good examples of this. You must take your name off any debt that is no longer yours. Creditors are not bound by divorce agreements or decrees. They only follow the agreement you made with them. Usually, any property that is still under a finance agreement needs to refinanced in your spouse’s name alone if they are keeping that property.
You should also always work with a family lawyer. A lawyer will know important clauses to include in your final agreement. One of these is an indemnity clause. A judge may order your spouse to pay certain debt. Your spouse may not pay, even with a court order. An indemnity clause allows you to take them back to court. This remedy can protect you from paying debt your ex-spouse was ordered to pay. Indemnity clauses must be worded properly. That is the only way they can provide protection. A family lawyer will know the language to use.
Get Help Today
You need a lot of protection when going through divorce. You do not want to lose valuable assets. You do not want to be found liable for your spouse’s debt. At The Peck Law Firm, our South Carolina family lawyers can help. Call us today or contact us online to schedule a consultation.