by Greg Vogel
Myth No. 2: if you get divorced and the judge orders your spouse to pay a debt, it can no longer affect your credit since you are not responsible
False. This scenario happens a ton and is one of the most common misunderstandings of credit. Even though a divorce can rule that one spouse is responsible for a debt, if the other spouse originally signed the contractual agreement, they both are still responsible. A credit card company doesn’t care in the least who is responsible for a debt per a judge’s order. The way they see it, if both parties signed the agreement, both parties are still responsible jointly for the debt, and both parties will have the account reported to their credit equally. If your ex-spouse decides not to pay the mortgage, the lender can come after you for the debt and the late payments, and foreclosure can legally report to your credit as well!
If you are in a situation like this, know that the only way to really separate things on your credit is to pay off the debts and close the accounts. The other option would be to refinance the debt just under your spouse’s name. Until either one of these things happens you are still liable and responsible for what the other signer on the account is doing and how they are paying the bills.
For the reasons just explained above, I always recommend that spouses keep their credit separated as much as possible. And on the bright side, this gives your family more purchasing power. If one spouse has a bunch of debt, the other can always apply for credit just under them and will have a greater chance of qualifying for a loan because they are not technically liable for the other spouse’s debts. This gives a couple much more financial freedom and flexibility for the future!
Greg Vogel is a Consumer Credit and Debt Advocate. He is a FICO and credit reporting expert with the goal of putting himself out of a job through creating awareness and education about the exploitative nature of the Credit and Debt industry. Wellness Credit advocates for consumers in the credit world and repairs credit to raise FICO scores.