Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

Creditors aren't bound by your divorce decree

One of the primary concerns for people involved in a divorce is making sure they receive a property settlement that gives them a secure financial start to their newly single lives. They focus on dividing assets and may not give enough thought to dividing debts.

If you are like many other people across the country, you have credit card debt. Even older couples tend to have this type of financial obligation these days. As you work toward finalizing your divorce, you may ask a Minnesota court to divide your credit card debt between you and your future former spouse. You may believe this means you will no longer have any responsibility for the debt, but that is not necessarily the case.

Do creditors care about what your divorce decree says?

When a credit card company issued you a card, you understood that you agreed to take on the responsibility of paying back that debt. While you were married, you probably had no problem adding your spouse to the account as an authorized user. Together, you added to the balance on the card. Now that you are divorcing, you expect your ex-spouse to pay at least a portion of the debt you incurred together.

You may hope that, after presenting your case to the judge, he or she may order your former spouse to make payments on your credit card balance. The problem is that credit card companies, and all other creditors, are not legally bound by divorce decrees. You cannot simply provide a copy to your creditors and expect them to relieve you of financial responsibility for the debt. Legally, they can come back to you for payment.

Do you have any recourse if your spouse fails to pay?

Understanding that your creditors do not have to honor your divorce decree raises the question of how you can protect yourself if your spouse fails to meet his or her obligations under the order. You may not be able to keep your creditors from seeking payment from you, but you may be able to take action against your former spouse. You can ask the judge to include provisions in your divorce decree to cover this eventuality.

You cannot control what your creditors do, but you can exert some degree of control over your former spouse to help ensure he or she abides by the court's orders. Language included in your divorce decree can give you an avenue for potentially holding your ex-spouse responsible for not paying the debts assigned to him or her. Even though the process can be frustrating and complex, you may rest easier knowing that you can go back to court to enforce the consequences outlined in your divorce decree.

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Bowden Cyr, PLLC - Attorneys At Law

7825 3rd Street North | Suite 204 | Oakdale, MN 55128 | Phone: 612-254-6409 | Fax: 651-731-5496 | Oakdale Law Office Map