November 7, 2013. During the negotiation part of a divorce case or following trial, assets and liabilities will be split between the parties. The Court will order the parties to pay certain amounts on the debts. You feel relief that you have identified which bills you need to worry about. Unfortunately, you need to worry about all of them. Creditors do not care about your divorce decree. If you co-signed a loan, owe the IRS, or have credit cards in both names, both of you are liable for the full amount. If one party stops making payments, the creditor will turn to you, regardless of your divorce decree. What now? Here are some tips on how to minimize your liability:

1) Close all joint credit cards. Call the credit card company to cancel the cards, so you will not be liable for future purchases. You will still have to pay the balance, but at least the balance will not increase due to additional purchases. Open a credit card in your own name.

2) Get the mortgage into one name only. If your ex keeps the house, stops making payments, and the house goes to foreclosure, you will be on the line for payments if your name is on the mortgage. If one of you cannot swing the house payment, it is best to sell the house, split the proceeds and start fresh. If one party does keep the house, have the stipulation say the house will be refinanced into your ex-‘s name with a certain period of time or sold if he/she is unable to accomplish that.

3) Stay on top of your credit record. Make sure that payments for credit cards are being made. Make sure the credit card company knows how to reach you so you can get notice of late or missed payments. Review your credit report frequently to see if there is anything on your report you need to handle.

If your ex is not following through with the terms of the divorce decree, talk to an attorney about filing a contempt action. However, the creditors do not care. They want to be paid. Do everything you can to protect your credit. Contact the creditors and work with them on resolving these issues. For more information on family law matters, contact Goosmann Law at or call 712.226.4000.

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