Couples who decide to divorce often concern themselves with how they're going to split up things like their homes, cars, jewelry and other valuable items. We seldom hear about which spouse is going to assume responsibility for the debts that they've amassed though. Perhaps it's rarely discussed because couples don't realize that just like their assets, any debts will have to be split up. They have to though.
In some states, if the debt was incurred in only one of the spouses' names, then the onus ultimately falls on the shoulders of that individual to pay it off. This isn't always the case though. In some instances, the debt that one spouse incurs is seen as belonging to both. If you can justify how the debt only benefited your ex and not the entire household, then it's possible to have your responsibility to pay it back waived by a judge.
Even if you're able to avoid being ordered to pay on debt that your ex racked up by the time a judge signs off on your divorce decree, it may mean nothing to your creditors. If you're listed as a joint credit card holder with your ex, for example, then they're likely to expect you to pay yourself if your ex doesn't. If you decide not to, then they may initiate collection proceedings against you. You may be left filing bankruptcy if you can't afford to pay.
If you know that there's debt on the table, then it may benefit you to work with a divorce attorney who can advocate for your interests. If you two share joint accounts, then they may recommend that splitting both of the accounts right down the middle is in your best interest. They may also suggest that you attempt to pay off any outstanding balance before your divorce is finalized.
In learning more about your financial situation, a Fort Myers property division attorney may advise you that the best course of action is to pursue a bankruptcy as a mode of debt relief in your divorce.