Financial troubles are a leading cause of marital discord for couples in Massachusetts. If you and your spouse are considering divorce, you might be dealing with a messy debt situation. If so, you may need to reach out to an experienced Massachusetts Bankruptcy Attorney who can help you figure out your rights and responsibilities regarding your and your spouse’s debt. At times a bankruptcy may be appropriate to prevent your debt situation from getting worse. Timing is critical with these matters, as there are different ramifications regarding a bankruptcy that happens before or after a divorce.
Marital and Non-Marital Debt
First, it is important to know the difference between the two types of debt in a divorce proceeding under the law: marital and non-marital debt. In general, as the name implies, marital debt is debt acquired while the couple was legally wed, whereas non-marital debt is that acquired before marriage or after divorce.
In most circumstances, you will not be responsible for your spouse’s non-marital debt (e.g. , student loans or credit card charges incurred before you were married). However, responsibility for your own non-marital debts will be (with limited exceptions) exclusively yours.
You Could Be Held Responsible for Your Spouse’s Debts
This much is fairly straightforward. However, since both you and your spouse are on the hook for marital debts, responsibility for their repayment will be assigned during divorce proceedings, along with the division of marital assets. The judge makes the final decisions in a divorce, and individual debts might not be assigned to the spouse who incurred them, it is possible you could end up responsible paying for things you never bought.
Moreover, it is important that you know, even if your spouse is held responsible for a debt in your divorce judgment, your creditors will continue to view you as a party responsible for the debt, as well. As a result, they will maintain the legal right to pursue repayment if your ex does not cough up as required under the divorce decree. A divorce is only binding on the parties to the lawsuit, meaning that if your former partner does not pay, you may be required to pay instead or see your credit score ruined. Your only recourse would be to sue your deadbeat ex for repayment.
Considering these possibilities, you must do all that is possible to prevent an already-bad debt situation from getting worse, even before your divorce.
Good counsel can help you protect your bottom line and financial future, representing your interests on all debt matters. Whether you are contemplating divorce, in the middle of the proceedings, or were recently divorced, the Massachusetts bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Office of Brian R. Lewis can listen to your story and explain the best course of action. Sometimes that may mean filing for bankruptcy, but at other times you could have alternative options.
Don’t wait to get your life, and finances, back on track. Contact our legal team today for a consultation and begin the process of regaining your personal and financial freedom.