When you get divorced, the court issues a court order called a “divorce decree.” The divorce decree includes the judge’s decision about debts. The judge decides who is responsible for the debts. For example, you may have to pay all or part of debts that are in your spouse’s name, or the judge could decide the debts should be paid equally by both of you.
But remember: the divorce decree only affects the two of you, not the creditor. If your name is on a debt, the creditor can sue you even if the divorce decree says your ex-spouse has to pay the debt.
If you end up paying a debt the judge said your spouse was responsible for, go back to the court and ask them to enforce the decree. Show the court a copy of your divorce decree and proof that you paid the debt. Receipts or cancelled checks are good proof.
Divorce and Real Estate:
The judge also decides what happens to “real property” you or your spouse bought during your marriage. Real property is land and buildings, like a house. You both have a right to at least part of any real property purchased during the marriage, even if it is only in one name. If you want to keep the property the judge might make you responsible for the mortgage, taxes, and repairs for the home.
Before you sign divorce papers, make sure you understand what money is owed on any real property that is in your spouse’s name only. You and your spouse can agree about who keeps all rights to the property in the divorce. If you don’t agree, the judge will make the final decision.
If you don’t want to be responsible for the money owed on the property, you might not want to claim your share of the property. Tell the judge. You and your spouse can agree that he or she will keep all rights to the property in the divorce. If you don’t agree, the judge will make the final decision.