By Jedidiah McKeehan

When individuals get divorced there almost always debts that must be split up between the parties.  Car loans, mortgage payments, and credit card bills are all debts that are accrued during marriages that someone must pay for after two people are divorced.

When people are divorced, often times they will agree to pay for the cars in their possession and pay for the debts that are in their names.  But what if the debt was a joint debt?  Who owes that?  Even if one person agrees to pay a joint debt after the divorce is final, they may not actually do it.  What happens then?  Unfortunately, an agreement to pay a joint debt after a divorce does nothing to stop the creditor from getting money from whomever they can possibly get it from.  So, even if your spouse has agreed to pay the credit card bill, if they do not do it, the credit card company can still come after you what you initially agreed to pay.

What recourse do you have against a spouse who does not pay a debt they are supposed to after a divorce?  Well there are no good options.  You can take them back to court and the judge can order them to pay the debt and even threaten them with jail time, but it does not help you get away from the initial creditor chasing you down for money.

How can you avoid this?  Again, there are not a ton of good answers, but I advise people to try to get these things resolved prior to the finalization of the divorce through refinancing in one person’s name, getting loans in one person’s name only to pay off jointly held debt, and the splitting up and dissolving of any and all joint accounts.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.