LEONARD M.WEINER, ESQ, Ph.D.

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LEONARD M.WEINER, ESQ, Ph.D.

(212) 370-1660

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Question #168

My husband has asked for a divorce. After some significant damage to my credit due to my ex’s financial irresponsibility, I am seeking a legal separation until the divorce is final (which may be a while). I understand that the legal separation will not remove my name from accounts, but can I use the legal separation to prevent or remove missed payments and defaults from hurting my credit further? The vast majority of our debt is my husband’s debt, but some of it is in my name. If the legal separation stipulates he is responsible for the debt, regardless of whose name is on the account (credit cards mainly), can I still be held accountable for payments that he misses or makes late to accounts that are in my name? Will a legal separation do me any good? Is it worth paying the extra legal fees for the separation? Thank you for your help! [Continuation of the previous Question] Thank you for the information, but I have just one more question for you. I understand that my name will not be removed from the loan and credit cards, and when my husband pays the payments late or not at all, it will go on my credit unless I pay the amounts myself. My question is, can I take a legal document, i.e., legal separation or divorce decree that states I am not responsible or liable for the debt to the credit bureaus and have the late or missed payments removed from my credit report? Is there any way to protect my credit without having to just pay for everything my self? I was told the only way to protect my credit truly is to pay off the debts myself and then sue my husband to be reimbursed for the money. Is that true? Thank you for your time!!!

The first thing you should do is to terminate all mutual credit card and bank accounts that you have with your spouse if you have not already done so. You are correct in seeking a legal separation and divorce to prevent any additional claims against you for the debts of your husband. Until you have such legal separation and divorce, you may still have some financial exposure for his debts. Unfortunately, however, those debts to which you are jointly and severally liable, will not be discharged against you simply because you enter into a Separation Agreement now. The credit card companies or banks to which the debts are owed will generally not let you off, but it does not hurt to communicate with them and see if you can work something out with them.

Unfortunately, the Separation Agreement you entered into with your
spouse is not binding on the credit card companies. You remain liable to them
for the outstanding debt despite your Agreement. All you can do is pay the debt when it comes due, and sue your spouse for his share.

Good luck!

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions

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