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What happens to marital debt in a Texas divorce?

You never thought twice about sharing your credit cards with your spouse -- nor did your spouse think anything about lending you their cards when you needed them.

Over time, though, those debts have piled up. Now that you're getting a divorce, what happens to them?

Well, Texas is a community property state, so generally, anything acquired during the marriage -- whether it's an asset or a debt -- belongs to you both, no matter whose name is on it.

That can provoke a lot of confusion and problems down the line. While your ex-spouse may be responsible for paying half of that $10,000 credit card bill that's in your name, for example, your creditors won't care what your divorce papers say when it comes time to collect. If your ex doesn't pay up, you'll get hit with the bill and the damaged credit report.

What can you do to make the future a little easier? When it comes to marital debt, here are some options:

  • You can try to negotiate or litigate for a fairer division. This might be a good choice if the debt was truly unfair, like when a spouse runs up the bills in secret due to a gambling addiction.
  • You can agree to take on all of the debt that's in your name but ask for a bigger division of the assets to cover what your spouse would otherwise owe on their half of the bill.
  • You and your spouse can agree to pay off the debts prior to divorce if you have the funds to do so.
  • You and your spouse can agree to dispose of certain marital assets to pay off the debts. For example, you may agree to sell the family home in the divorce and use the equity to eliminate your marital debts.

Whatever your income, debt after divorce can leave you in a bind. Talk to your attorney about your options.

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