When a couple divorces, they have to sort through their assets and debts and decide who will take what, and who will pay which debts. If you’re divorcing and you and your spouse have joint debts (for example, both of your names may be on the auto loans and mortgages, and you may have several joint credit cards), then you should talk to an attorney to learn how to best protect yourself and your credit.
Please be aware that if any joint debts survive the bankruptcy, the creditor’s right to collect the debt from you and your spouse generally does not change because of the divorce. As long as both of your names remain on the account, the creditor can go after both of you for payment. So, if your spouse agrees to pay off the auto loan since they’re driving the car and he or she skips payments, the bank can go after you for payment if you’re still on the auto loan.
Getting Your Name Off the Auto Loan
Let’s assume you and your spouse each have your own vehicle. Even though you financed both auto loans together, your auto loan is already paid off, but the loan on the car your spouse is driving still has a balance. Your spouse wants to keep the vehicle, but your name is still on the debt. What do you do?
Typically, the only way to get your name off the loan is for your spouse to refinance it in his or her name alone. If your spouse can’t qualify for an auto loan by him or herself, or if he or she refuses to refinance the auto loan, it’s worth the time to speak with a lawyer about your options. We understand that an auto loan can be in the tens of thousands, so it’s wise to seek legal advice on this matter.
If your spouse decides to refinance the car in their name, he or she may need to bring a certified copy of the Final Decree of Divorce and/or a copy of a Power of Attorney to Transfer Motor Vehicle Title to the local county tax office to apply for title. If the vehicle was not included in the Final Decree of Divorce for some reason, you may need to assign the title to your former spouse – a knowledgeable family attorney can help guide you through the process.