If you are divorcing, recently divorced, or if you are anticipating or considering a divorce, you must consider the financial implications of dissolving your marriage.
For instance, how will a divorce affect your credit score?
Will your credit score drop if your ex-marriage partner fails to make payments on time?
If you are divorcing in southern California, obtain the counsel and legal services you need by contacting and working with an Oceanside divorce attorney from the very beginning.
A good divorce lawyer can usually give you some helpful suggestions for dealing with credit issues and the other aspects of your personal financial situation.
All debts and liabilities incurred by either or both spouses during the course of a marriage must be addressed in the divorce settlement.
Debts can include mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, auto loans, and other loans.
In a divorce, debt influences the court’s division of marital property and the final settlement arrangement.
Marital possessions and debts are “equitably” divided in a California divorce unless you and your spouse mutually agree to a different arrangement.
WHEN YOU DIVORCE, WHAT RIGHTS DO CREDITORS HAVE?
Because California is a “community property state,” creditors can hold both spouses liable for debt incurred by either or both spouses during marriage.
Both marriage partners will remain responsible for the debts that are incurred, even when a divorce decree has ordered separate debt obligations for each ex-spouse.
No creditor is interested in the details of a divorce judgment; creditors simply want payment from someone who is responsible for the debt.
Marital partners who take advantage of a joint credit account – by going on a “spending spree,” for example – can do serious damage to an ex-spouse’s credit score.
If you are having difficulty paying a debt, try contacting the creditor about setting up a more affordable repayment schedule.
Before your divorce procedure begins, you should obtain a copy of your credit report and see which debts are listed as outstanding.
Contact the creditors themselves if you have questions or need more information about debt.
If you have concerns regarding how a particular debt will be handled in the divorce settlement, discuss the debt and the settlement with your divorce lawyer.
HOW DO DIVORCE COURTS HANDLE MARITAL ASSETS AND DEBTS?
During a divorce procedure in California, a court will divide the divorcing spouses’ assets and debts and will identify which partner is responsible for paying which debts.
In a general sense, a California court tries to divide debts and assets equitably; however, debts and assets may also balance one another.
For instance, a spouse might receive more property but, in return, may also be assigned to pay more debt.
Some ex-spouses either do not or simply cannot pay the debts they were ordered to pay by the court in the final divorce settlement.
Creditors in these cases may “come after” the other ex-spouse.
It seems unfair, particularly from the perspective of the spouse who didn’t incur the debt, but a creditor has the right to pursue either spouse for the payment of a debt.
What can you do if your ex can’t or won’t pay a credit card debt, for example, and the credit card company is harassing you for payment?
With the help of an experienced divorce attorney in Oceanside, you can ask the court to enforce the divorce settlement.
Your ex-spouse will have to explain to the court why the court’s order has not been followed, and your ex, at that time, could be found in contempt of court, fined, or even jailed.
Your other option is to satisfy the debt yourself and to make sure you obtain proof that you’ve made the payment.
Your divorce attorney may then petition the court to order your ex-spouse to reimburse you.
In such a circumstance, have your own attorney recommend what he or she believes is your best option.
BEFORE A DIVORCE BEGINS, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
Before your divorce begins, you also should consider canceling your joint credit cards, but you may want to discuss this move with your attorney, because it may not be appropriate for everyone.
However, canceling your joint credit cards will prevent a vindictive or irresponsible partner from creating new debts or from going on a spending spree that you could be held responsible for later.
You should also discuss with your attorney protecting your share of any joint bank accounts.
Your attorney may advise you to withdraw half of the balance and start a new individual account at a different bank.
If you do this, you’ll need to inform your partner in writing about the withdrawal, so that there’s a record and so that you are not accused of deception.
Then, make and keep several copies of that notification letter for yourself.
During a divorce, whatever financial decisions you make will probably have long-term effects.
Along with protecting your credit card and bank accounts, you should pay particular attention to how your house and any other joint property is titled, where and how your financial documents are stored, and the details of your assets, debts, and any retirement accounts.
You’ll have to work closely with your attorney to find or to fill in any missing financial information.
WHAT OTHER FINANCIAL MATTERS MUST BE CONSIDERED?
In other words, you’ll need to pay attention to a number of financial details before, during, and after a divorce.
A divorce settlement can determine what happens to retirement accounts, corporate and military pensions, and Social Security benefits.
You’ll want to ask your lawyer about changes that may need to be made to your will and other important legal documents.
You will probably also need to update your beneficiary designations, and many people may have to make some significant changes to their budgets and lifestyles after a divorce.
Couples with more property, more assets, more credit, and more debts will face a more complicated divorce than couples of more modest means.
If you are divorcing or if you expect to divorce in California, seek the legal advice and representation that you need only from a divorce attorney who routinely and successfully handles complicated divorces on behalf of his or her clients.
The right divorce lawyer will fight tenaciously on your behalf for the proper and just divorce settlement you need and deserve.