On behalf of The Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A.
What happens to community (joint) debt after a divorce? Unfortunately, community debt – debt created by one or both spouses during their marriage – does not melt away like a snowball after a marriage ends.
So what happens to it and which spouse is legally obliged to pay it back? The two of the most common questions our best property division attorneys in Fort Lauderdale receive from our first-time clients are “Who will get to keep our marital house?” and “How will our debt be handled after the divorce?”
Here at the Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A., we have all the answers for you. If you are getting divorced, we know what you are thinking right now, “How do I throw all the debt acquired during the marriage onto my spouse and ride off into the sunset Scott-free?”
Creditors will not stop harassing both spouses
Normally, spouses cannot influence the court’s decision regarding which spouse will be responsible for which joint debt unless legally represented by a Fort Lauderdale property division attorney. It is vital to note, however, that even though the court will issue orders as to which spouse will be responsible for which community debt, creditors will most likely not stop harassing both spouses.
In this regard, creditors can do whatever they want, as the court cannot regulate creditors if they did not participate in the divorce in the first place. More often than not, creditors will be asking one of the spouses to pay off community debt even if there is a court order clearly stating that this spouse is no longer responsible for this particular debt.
Yep, as you can see, property and debt division can be quite complicated in Fort Lauderdale and all across Florida. And it can land you in big trouble if your spouse declares bankruptcy over his/her inability to pay the community debt back.
Reimbursement and bankruptcy on community debt
For example, let’s say the court ordered your ex-husband to be fully responsible for the mortgage after a divorce. The ex-husband refuses to pay, and creditors go straight to his former spouse to demand payment. As a result, she agrees to pay off the debt. In that case, she may be able to go to court and demand reimbursement from her ex-husband.
Or let’s imagine the ex-husband declares bankruptcy on the mortgage debt, and creditors go straight to his ex-wife. The ex-wife will most likely have no other option than to file for bankruptcy herself.
What you did not know about community debt
In our lifetime, we do not get divorced that often, which is why the vast majority of people in the United States still have plenty of misconceptions about joint debt. Our Fort Lauderdale property division attorney is going to outline some of the most common ones.
First of all, you cannot legally remove your name from a binding agreement with creditors after a divorce even if the other spouse agrees to assume full responsibility for the debt and/or the court orders him/her to be responsible for it.
If you go to court to get divorced without a lawyer by your side, the outcome will be unpredictable, and you may be required to pay off the debt you did not create during the marriage and/or cannot afford. Keep in mind that in the eyes of law, each spouse has an individual obligation to pay community debt back, including but not limited to mortgage, credit cards, and others.
Also, in Florida, tort obligations are considered joint debt, too. So if one of the spouses was to blame for an accident which left another party injured, both spouses will be responsible for paying off the tort obligation even after a divorce.
These are not the only pitfalls and challenges you may encounter during a divorce, which is why it is highly advised to consult with an experienced property division before filing for divorce. Find out your best legal options by contacting the Law Office of Gustavo E. Frances, P.A. Call our offices at 954-533-2756 or complete this contact form to get a free consultation.