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Why do I have to pay my ex’s debts?

When you and your spouse are working through the details of your divorce settlement, you may likely have to assign responsibility for shared debt. From vehicle loans or leases to credit card debt and more, most married couples have some amount of joint debt.

By relying solely on the terms of your divorce decree to outline the liability for debt after your divorce is over, however, you could be opening yourself up to big problems down the road.

Debt liability in the eyes of your creditor or lender

As explained by Bankrate, a creditor may always consider any person named on an account to be liable for the debt on that account, regardless of the terms of any divorce decree. For example, your divorce decree may indicate your spouse as the responsible party for a credit card debt, but your name remains on the account. If your spouse does not pay the bills on this account, the bank may come to you for repayment.

Collections efforts and credit damage

In addition to being pursued by a creditor or a credit collections agency, your credit report might take a hit by reflecting payments your former spouse either failed to make or made late.

Options to avoid future problems

Some people find it helpful to repay their joint debt as part of their divorce process. When this cannot be done, a responsible party may be asked to transfer joint debt to a new account in his or her name only.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give residents in Texas an overview of how they may end up on the hook for a former spouse’s debts if they don’t properly address matters during their divorce.