How to Approach Debt in a Divorce

When you are getting divorced, most debt, with a few exceptions, accumulated during the divorce is marital debt regardless of the name on the debt. The first step in approaching your debt is to find out what you have. I recommend that you start by obtaining your free credit report. You can obtain one from each of the three major credit bureaus once a year. It may be a good idea to stagger it every three or four months so you can pull one from each throughout the year. Review your credit report to obtain balances, or identify accounts you either did not know about or forgot about. You should also have a title clerk do a search on your real estate to make sure there are no unknown liens on your house.

Next, compile an organized binder with a list of all your debts and start organizing your statements. You will want to obtain the statements of balances as of the date of your separation. You will also then want to start saving copies of cancelled checks and statements after your date of separation so that you can seek credit for payment of marital debt where it is allowed. In addition, you want to save the statements to show you did not increase the marital debt.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to pay all the debt, you may want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who can not only help you determine if it is a good idea, but may also be able to guide you in recovering money from creditors.