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Am I Responsible For My Ex’s Debt Following a Divorce?

Considering that the average household financial debt in the UK (excluding mortgages) is almost £10,000, it is important to consider how any debts will be treated upon separation.

Working out what is to happen with matrimonial debt can be a significant emotional and stressful time, especially if the debt incurred is from an ex-partner.

In this article, we will look at what the law says about dealing with debts during a divorce and ways you can separate them in a fair way alongside measures you can take to protect yourself in the future.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    What happens to debt incurred after separation?

    In the period of time during which a married couple has separated but is not divorced, it is possible for each spouse to accrue significant debt.

    Until a financial consent order has been issued by the court, any new debts can end up being factored into the overall financial settlement.

    However, there is an element of reasonableness, eg. if one spouse is obviously whittling down the matrimonial pot by excessive spending, the court may decide they are entitled to a lower percentage of the matrimonial pot.

    Are all types of debt treated the same by the court?

    Mortgages are normally considered differently from most other types of personal debt.

    The equity in a mortgaged home will generally be added to the matrimonial pot but the amount to repay on a mortgage will not be deducted (since it will not be owed if the property is sold).

    However, deciding what to do with a matrimonial home will be one of the biggest questions upon divorce.

    What powers do the courts have in relation to debts and divorce?

    The court has limited powers in terms of dealing with debts upon divorce. It cannot reassign individual debts because these will remain a contract between the individual spouse and the lender.

    However, it can balance out a financial settlement to cater to the fact that one party will be lumbered with large debts (eg if they are less able to pay for these than their former spouse).

    How can I prevent future disputes over debt with my ex?

    Obtaining a court-approved financial order is a crucial step in ensuring that debts are properly taken into account in any financial agreement and preventing disputes from arising in the future.

    As long as there are no joint debts remaining after divorce, it is possible to ask credit reference agencies to place what is known as a ‘notice of disassociation on your credit report, which essentially removes any previous association between credit files.

    How we can help you

    Protect your assets with a prenup


    Get help splitting your finances

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