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How to avoid paying a spouse's debt after a marriage ends

Under Texas law, all debts accrued during a marriage are generally considered joint debts. Therefore, a spouse may be responsible for a portion of those debts following a divorce. In some cases, that person could be responsible for paying off the whole debt if the other spouse doesn't pay his or her share. This is because creditors are not restricted by the terms of a divorce settlement.

It may be a good idea to have joint debts refinanced so that they are in one person's name only. In this scenario, creditors would only be able to go after the other spouse. Individuals who have just divorced are encouraged to look at their credit reports to see if their former spouses have stopped making debt payments. By catching possible issues right away, one could work out a new payment plan with creditors before any serious damage is done.

If arrangements aren't made in a timely manner, an unpaid debt could result in a creditor putting a lien on a home. It could also result in wages being garnished or other negative consequences until the debt is repaid. This could have significant consequences on a person's ability to achieve financial stability both now and in the future.

The end of a marriage may result in both emotional and financial upheaval. Individuals who don't have a prenuptial agreement may be able to negotiate a settlement in private with a former spouse. It might also be possible to resolve a divorce through mediation or litigation with the help of an attorney.

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