I’m a strong advocate for encouraging couples to do whatever it takes to try to save their marriage. However, I am not an idealist, and I realize that divorce happens every day in America. In fact, almost half of all marriages end in divorce, and studies have shown that problems with money have been the number one cause of divorce in America. This is slightly skewed, because money issues in a marriage are usually the symptom of the real marital problems. If you are going through a divorce, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. It’s a horrible situation, even if you are parting ways without a great deal of angst. As a spouse going through a divorce, you do have rights and your other spouse does not have the right to trash your credit and put you in a tough financial situation.
The first thing to remember when you are getting a divorce is that you are NOT liable to pay back ANY debts that you did not sign for. If your spouse opens up a credit card in his or her own name while you are married, you have no obligation to help pay off that debt during or after a divorce. Having said that, if your spouse opened up a credit card or charge account that paid for things that you both benefited from such as going out to eat, home improvements, or furniture, then I believe you have a moral obligation to help pay back that debt. In some cases, a couple separates and then one of the spouses will try to open charge accounts with no intention of paying it back in hopes of trashing the other spouses credit out of bitter revenge about the divorce. If that spouse only opens it up in their name, then you have no obligation to pay back that debt. Just because you are legally married, does not mean you are liable for your spouses debts unless you both signed your name on the dotted line for that account. This brings me to my next topic about marital identity theft.
Whether you are going through a divorce or you are happily married, your spouse should NEVER be signing your name for ANYTHING. It’s still your signature and even if it’s for something that would benefit you, your spouse should never be signing your name. If your spouse signs your name for a credit card in order to get revenge on you during a divorce, then you need to report him or her to the police. It is criminal fraud, and it doesn’t matter if you are married, family members, or best friends. Your spouse has no right to sign you up for anything.
When it comes to real assets such as cars, real estate, and personal property, this is why a quality divorce attorney is essential to protecting your financial future. In a perfect family court system, couples splitting up would each get a fair settlement – nothing more and nothing less than they deserve. But as we all know, this rarely happens. You must remember that when you tie the knot, you are spiritually, emotionally, and legally coming together as one cohesive unit. If you want to make the divorce less complicated, seek to resolve the splitting up of assets in the most fair way possible. Just because you worked 60 hours a week and she or he stayed home with the kids does not mean you deserve the house and the nicer car. If it were me, I would sell the house and split the equity with my wife. It’s only the fair thing to do, unless one spouse chooses to give the house over to the other spouse. If there are children involved, think of them first when making these decisions. The financial decisions that you make in divorce court will affect your children as much as they will affect you.
If you are on the verge of divorce, I encourage you to visit your local pastor or clergy or check out Focus On The Family to try to save the marriage. If you are already going through a divorce, know your rights and protect your finances as best you can, but remember that this was a person you once loved. Do you really want to take them to the cleaners, or would you rather both get a fair settlement that benefits you both. I’m not a marriage counselor in any way, but these comments are common sense. Follow your instincts and your heart, and you will rebound much quicker than you expected.
Disclaimer: My marriage is very healthy, and this post is in no way implying that I am getting a divorce or thinking about getting a divorce. I try to be as well-rounded as possible when it comes to the subject matter of this blog, and unfortunately, divorce is a common subject in America.