I have been practicing law for awhile; I remember the old days when a divorce judgment split the assets between the husband and wife, including the equity in their home.
Well, as the song says, those days are gone.
Financial troubles are one of the prime causes of divorce.
Most divorced couples have no equity to divide.
And, both their names are on the mortgage.
One of them gets the house, but the divorce court has no power to take a name off of a mortgage note, or any other contract.
The divorce judgment is only effective as to the divorcing couple.
The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey, the myth on page 66:
“My divorce decree says my spouse has to pay the debt, so I don’t.”
You will remain liable, to the creditor, for whatever debt you signed for.
The most a divorce judgment can do is require one spouse to indemnify, or reimburse, the other, for money spent paying a debt the other was supposed to pay.
Indemnify or reimburse, that means you pay the debt first, and then chase your ex for what it cost you.
Not good financial planning.
I know Mr. Ramsey is not big on bankruptcy, but if you are getting divorced, especially with kids involved, your expenses are likely not going down as much as your income.
So if you were in the red before the divorce, things will just get redder.
And if you try to pay everyone, what if your ex files bankruptcy, taking his or her name off the debts?
Now you are the only one on the hook.
So figure out your post divorce budget, and talk to a bankruptcy lawyer before the divorce is over.
Another complication is, you cannot discharge, or get rid of, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debts you are ordered to pay in a divorce judgment.
So don’t think you can just make that divorce deal and waltz over to bankruptcy court and get out of the bills you agreed to pay.
But The Divorce Judgment Says He Has To Pay