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Divorce and debt: What you need to know

If you are heading for divorce and you have been married for at least seven years, you probably had time to accumulate some assets and some debt. While you are probably aware that you will have to split your marital assets with your soon-to-be ex-wife, do not forget that the debt will play a role in your divorce as well.

Unfortunately, handling the debt aspect can sometimes be more complicated than simply splitting it down the middle. Furthermore, debt collectors typically do not care about your divorce decree, especially if you are still listed as a responsible party on their records. The following can help you manage the way divorce affects your debt.

Lenders do not care about the divorce

It sounds harsh, but it is true. Lenders do not care if you and your wife just got divorced. If you are both listed as responsible for a loan, the lender will not care how you decided to split the debt in your divorce. If she is assuming the loan for one of the cars but she stops making payments, the lender will still come after you if the two of you originally took the loan out together.

Keep your credit safe

After reading the above, you might be worried about the future of your credit. In general, there are two things you can do to keep your credit score safe after a divorce. You can either remove yourself from the debt or you can take steps to make sure the lender receives payment.

Removing yourself from the debt is usually a difficult process. This is mainly due to the fact that most lenders do not like to lose access to a responsible party, especially if that person's credit history played a significant role in the loan approval. For example, if your wife is assuming the mortgage on your home in San Diego, the bank may not want to remove you from the loan if you had been the main source of income when they initially lent the two of you the money.

Another option you have is to refinance the loans as individuals. In other words, she refinances the loans she intends to pay in her name only and you do the same with yours. This is usually the easiest route to take.

Keep track of everything

Regardless of what you decide to do, make sure you keep records on everything. Proper documentation can provide you with a certain amount of protection in the event that creditors try to come after you. Also, by keeping a close eye on your debts, you will be able to head off any problems, such as your ex missing a payment on a debt that still has you as a co-signer or responsible party.

If you are considering divorce, the above tips can help you manage the debt you and your spouse acquired. For more complex situations, your financial advisor will be able to offer advice for your specific needs.

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