VICKIE LYNN COCHRAN attorney at law
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Little Rock divorce leftovers: Emotions and joint debts

Does any Pulaski County spouse walk away clean and clear from a marital break-up? Many Little Rock spouses certainly have feelings that carry beyond a divorce decree, sometimes with a significant impact on future communications with an ex over issues like child support. However, for the purposes of this blog, let's focus on splitting finances.

Ideally, divorce means former spouses are freed of marital financial burdens, but that's not the way many marriages end. Most spouses have at least some joint assets and debt, which have to be addressed in property division. While you may be able to separate credit cards and accounts, you can't call up a mortgage company and simply get them to drop an ex from a home loan.

A mortgage lender issues joint loans based on the credit of two parties and holds both responsible for making payments. An ex can refinance the mortgage to transfer the debt into one name or the home can be sold outright to eliminate the burden for both spouses. Divorce agreements may direct one spouse to pay a joint mortgage, but that doesn't alter the lender's view.

Let's say an ex agrees to stay in the marital home and pay all the debts associated with a joint mortgage. Home loan payments, maintenance and taxes on a single income can be tough to handle. A year or more after the decree, the ex-spouse defaults on the mortgage and the lender rightfully comes after the debtors, which still includes you.

Financial and legal professionals suggest clearing as much joint debt as possible. Post-divorce financial instability is common. No former spouse wants or needs a credit rating to tank during that vulnerable time.

Do what you can close joint credit lines and accounts. Be realistic about joint entanglements that aren't easily undone, like mortgages. With an attorney's help, negotiate solutions to prevent future financial problems for both parties.

Source: The Huffington Post, "'Conscious Uncoupling' Your Credit" Jeanne Kelly, May. 06, 2014

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