The process of divorce can bring up so many issues, some that couples may not have considered before hand. Finances is one of those big issues that, if not handled properly, can later come back to hurt those that end their marriage. Washington couples on the road to divorce may certainly benefit from taking their time to understand what financial obligations they will be left with if the division of assets is not properly negotiated during divorce proceedings.
While divorce settlements may state that one spouse is responsible for this or that debt, if both names are left on an account, both may still be held liable for the debt. Simply put, a divorce agreement is made between the couple, not creditors. If payments are not made or if one of the persons listed on the account dies, creditors have the legal right to pursue payment from the other individual listed on the account. This is a significant issue in community property states, such as Washington.
At the time of divorce, it would be wise to do everything possible to erase all liability on debts assigned to a former spouse. It is possible to enter this type of agreement directly with creditors, though may not be easy. It may also be possible to request that any debts be refinanced in an ex-spouse's name only to ensure liability is removed.
Finances after divorce can be difficult. It can be hard to start over, and being stuck with a former spouse's debt obligations due to failure to pay or unexpected death can make it even harder. Even though debts are likely to be evenly distributed to divorcing couples in Washington, there are ways to legally and personally protect oneself from being responsible for an ex-spouse's portion of the debt.
Source: wtkr.com, "Your dead ex-spouse's debt can still haunt you", Matt Knight, June 28, 2014