Am I Responsible for My Spouse's Debt in a Divorce?

When you say “I do,” you are not only blending your life with your partner – you are also commingling your finances, your property, and even your debts. The assets you amass during your marriage are considered marital property, which may be subject to division should you get a divorce.

From mortgages and student loans to credit cards and car loans, most people in the U.S. have at least some kind of debt. But what happens to those debts when you and your spouse split up?

Assigning Debts in Property Division

In most Kentucky divorces, each spouse is responsible for the debts they incurred before and during the marriage. Since Kentucky is an equitable distribution state, not a community property state, property that one spouse can claim solely – even if it was acquired during the marriage – will usually be given to that spouse after the divorce.

You and your partner can work out on your own who will be responsible for paying certain debts. If you cannot come to an agreement, a judge can divide the debt on your behalf.

Here in Kentucky, divorcing spouses are less likely to incur their spouse’s debt than couples filing for divorce in a community property state like California or Texas.

That said, you could still get saddled with your spouse’s debt.

Taking on Your Ex’s Debt

Ultimately, you could still be stuck with your ex’s debt if you cosigned the loan with them. Regardless of what your divorce decree says, creditors will come after the person or people named on the loan. That means even if your spouse takes the home and agrees to pay the mortgage, you could be liable if they stop paying and your name is on the loan. The same goes for other kinds of debt, including student loans, credit card debt, and car loans.

If your ex falls behind on payments and you cosigned their loan, you could be hit with:

  • Wage garnishments
  • A lower credit score
  • Liens
  • Fines

Protect Yourself from Your Spouse’s Debt

If you are worried about being liable for your spouse’s debt in a divorce, here are a few ways you can protect yourself:

  • Establish a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement
  • Cancel joint credit cards and joint bank accounts you share with your spouse
  • Refinance the debt to ensure it is solely your spouse’s legal responsibility

Learn more about how debts are divided in divorce. Call Winner Law Group, LLC at (502) 812-1889.