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How Is the Non-Filing Ex-Spouse Affected by Bankruptcy?

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How Is the Non-Filing Ex-Spouse Affected by Bankruptcy?
Many individuals inquire whether they will be affected by their ex-spouse's financial issues.  Often, they are not affected, but there are circumstances where the financial issues can negatively impact the non-filing ex-spouse.  
For instance, the question of whether a person's ex-spouse's bankruptcy can negatively affect their credit score often arises.  Usually, an ex-spouse's credit score is not affected by bankruptcy.  However, if the debtor and their spouse still have joint accounts, this may not be the case.  The person who files bankruptcy will no longer be liable under the debt, but their ex-spouse will be completely responsible for the debt, and the bankruptcy can show up on the ex-spouse's credit report.  Any debt incurred after the divorce will no longer be the obligation of the ex-spouse.  After divorce, it is very important to separate accounts and debts so the spouses are not responsible for the other's debts. 
Even if debt was assigned to one of the spouses through a divorce proceeding, the other spouse is still liable for the debt if both parties are listed as debtors.  A misconception many people make in the divorce process is thinking that as long as their ex-spouse is made responsible for the debt through the divorce judgment, they are free and clear of the debt, which is unfortunately not true.  If both parties are on the debt, the creditor can go after both parties.  What that means is that if one party files bankruptcy, they will no longer be responsible for the debt, but their ex-spouse will be.  When the creditor gets notice that one party has filed bankruptcy, they can call the ex-spouse to try to collect the debt.  They can also get civil judgments against the non-filing spouse and potentially garnish their wages and levy their bank accounts to satisfy the judgment.
If spouses purchase a house together, both names often are on the house.  If that is the case, an ex-spouse may want to get their name taken off the mortgage and/or deed for the house if the house was granted to the other spouse through the divorce.  If that is not done and the party retaining the house falls behind on payments, the ex-spouse who no longer lives in the house can be responsible for late payments and for the deficiency in the case of foreclosure.
If you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact a St. Louis or St. Charles bankruptcy attorney.

Category: Bankruptcy

1 Comments to "How Is the Non-Filing Ex-Spouse Affected by Bankruptcy?"

I was court ordered to pay my ex's medical debt. She filed for bankruptcy on the debt. Only her name was on the medical debt. Am I still responsible to pay for the debt if she is clear of it?
Posted by Brandon on May 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

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