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Cautions about splitting debts in a Florida divorce

Anyone who has been through a divorce knows just how long, tough and emotional a divorce can be in Florida and throughout the United States.

Child custody. Child support. Property division. Spousal support. Splitting the bank accounts.

But how about splitting the debts?

When it comes to that, you need to be proactive and take steps to protect yourself from lingering financial issues.

First of all, you need to know that things you and your spouse agree to about outstanding debt actually might not happen. For instance, if you and your spouse both take out a loan for a car, and you agree your ex-spouse can keep the car by making payments, they might not follow through and do that.

If your name is on the loan, you're equally responsible for the debt, and your credit will be negatively impacted if the bill isn't paid. You will be equally responsible for late fees and collection costs.

In other words, creditors have a contract with you – not your divorce agreement.

Try to get your name off the loan. You can ask the lender to remove you from the loan. If there is any chance for that to happen, the lender will need to review the credit and income of your spouse – and your spouse must be willing to assume the loan.

Or, you or your spouse can refinance that existing car loan, for example. If your ex-spouse will keep the car, they will need to apply for the car alone and get the financing based solely on their credit. That is one way to keep your credit independent of your spouse.

A second way to do so is to sell what you own that still has a balance on the loan – your car and your house come to mind – and split any proceeds after the loan is repaid. You might not want to sell, but it makes for a clean split and a fresh start.

If you are unable to secure new lines of credit and one spouse takes on a debt, monitor the account and your credit report regularly to make sure the debts are being paid.

Throughout the process, you should work with your divorce attorney to seek guidance and assistance to make sure that the debts are handled properly.

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