Law Office of Janet Langjahr
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When Fran came in for an uncontested divorce, she told me that she and Carl had verbally agreed on everything: custody, visitation, child support, property division, who would pay which debts, etc. Fran wanted to keep things simple.|
Despite Fran's resistance, I eventually got out of her that Carl was irresponsible and insensitive. He had just had a child out of wedlock with his mistress and he had accumulated substantial debt during their marriage. In fact, Fran finally admitted, Carl was in the process of filing for bankruptcy.
Now that they were finally getting a divorce, Fran wasn't so concerned about "Carl's debts". They had agreed that “Carl’s debts” were his problem. And, better yet, after Carl had gone through bankruptcy, they would be "his creditors' problem".
Unfortunately, Fran's analysis was wrong. Debts incurred by either spouse during their marriage are generally considered marital debts which, like marital assets, are divided fairly. Of course, Carl could let Fran off his hook.
But, whatever his intentions, Carl did not have the power to let Fran off the hook of “his creditors”.
If Carl were to stop paying his creditors, whether because he simply couldn’t or because his (share of their joint) debts were cancelled through bankruptcy, “Carl’s creditors” would surely go after Fran - no matter what Carl had agreed.
Fran hadn’t foreseen this wrinkle. Fortunately, now that the problem was out in the open, a solution could be built into their settlement.
True, it required a bit more complexity than Fran had originally wanted. But at least the settlement now gave Fran the ability to get back at Carl's middle-class government-worker salary and his assets if any of those creditors came after her for "his debts".
NOTE: Every case is different. Just because Fran achieved this outcome doesn't mean that your case will.
Divorce Law · Child Custody Law · Domestic Violence Law
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