How could a divorce cause me to pay my ex-spouse’s debts?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2022 | Divorce

Illinois divorce courts generally divide marital assets fairly. Any debt accumulated during marriage also classifies as part of your marital estate. You may, however, use your marital assets to pay your shared debts and then divide the proceeds.

If you have shared or joint household debts, you could consider paying them off during your divorce. Without a written agreement that specifies a certain debt belongs to one spouse, you may need to begin discussions with your spouse to determine who pays the debt after divorce.

When may spouses negotiate a payment arrangement?

As noted by, a spouse who cosigned on a loan has legal liability for paying it back if the other spouse defaults. If you believe that your ex-spouse may not have the means to make on-time payments, you may need to negotiate a plan to use your marital property to pay it off.

You could also negotiate a payment arrangement in which paying your ex-spouse’s portion of your marital debt becomes part of your spousal support or maintenance. Debts that may require post-divorce payment arrangements include joint credit cards, personal loans and medical bills.

What may I do if my spouse cannot pay the debts after the divorce?

To protect your credit rating, you may wish to consider applying for a consolidation loan. Some couples ending their marriages open credit card accounts in their own name and then transfer half of the balance from joint cards to each ex-spouse’s individual cards.

As noted by, a judge may consider the value of a couple’s assets and each spouse’s age, health and economic viability when ruling on a divorce settlement. How much each individual contributed toward the accumulation of marital income and debts could determine who has liability for a larger portion of unpaid balances.