Many people in the Philadelphia area do not realize that divorcing their partners does not mean they are automatically free of their joint financial obligations. It might not have taken long for you and your spouse to comingle finances and open joint accounts. Untangling them is the not-so-easy part.
Creditors can legally go after either or both parties of the marriage for payment. This could make it more challenging and burdensome for you to adjust to your new standard of living after the courts finalize your separation. Here are some pointers that can help you transition back to singlehood with little to no joint debts after divorce.
Learn which financial accounts you are on together
Ideally, the time for inventorying your finances is several months before you file. However, before the courts can divide marital property and debts, they must know what they are, whom they belong to and who benefited the most from them. You and your partner must disclose all properties, accounts and assets.
The same goes for jointly owned debts. For credit card accounts, you should denote the date of separation and who is going to keep them. This will make it easier for you to determine responsibility for charges that occur after that date. Remove yourself as the co-owner of all financial accounts that you do not want to maintain any responsibility for. You should cancel all joint credit cards as well.
Whittle away at joint debts
You do not want to leave the marriage with any joint debts if you can help it. If you cannot pay off all joint debts, do your best to pay them down. The more money you and your spouse can put toward marital debts, the less you will have to worry about after the divorce.
Are there any premarital agreements?
If you and your partner have an existing agreement about who is to assume responsibility for certain debts, provide a copy of that document to the courts. A judge will decide if the document is valid and legally enforceable.
You cannot control everything about divorce, but with proper precautions, you can structure your divorce settlement to protect you from the potential consequences of divorcing with joint debts.