Handling debt in a Tennessee divorce

It’s common for divorcing couples to struggle with property division. The family home, savings accounts and business ownership can come under fire. Marital debt can, as well.

Before establishing settlement terms, you’ll need to know the full extent of all that’s at stake. From there, you and your former spouse can make decisions about the future.

Three approaches to shared accounts

As with your asset division, you’ll need to figure out who is legally responsible for any money owed. Your credit report will help you understand your open accounts and remaining balances.

There are three ways to handle the debts you separate from your marital assets. When you consider your loans and open lines of credit, you can:

  • Pay off your debt. This isn’t always a viable option, but if finances allow, settling your outstanding balances will likely be the best way to protect your individual interests as you finalize your divorce.
  • Close your accounts. Why share credit cards, for example, if you’re no longer committed to a legal partnership? You may be able to cease lending capabilities without providing a lump-sum payment. Even if you’re unable to pay what’s due, at least your ex won’t be able to increase your financial liability while you devise divorce terms.
  • Wait. You might not want to handle joint accounts without your spouse’s agreement as you bring your marriage to an end. However, removing an authorized user from an account in your name is wise, as is the case with discontinuing your access to their credit lines.

Remember that Tennessee is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning you shouldn’t anticipate your property being divided equally. Instead, courts have specific ways of determining what’s fair.