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You may be responsible for debts your ex doesn't pay

You and your ex bought a new car about a year before the divorce. It's a $50,000 BMW, a car your ex always wanted. He or she agrees to take the car and agrees to pay off the rest of the debt, even though both of you got the loan together.

A year later, the lender calls, asking for payment. Your ex still owes $38,000 on the car and stopped making the payments. They tell you that you owe back payments for two months and that you'll also need to start making the monthly payments going forward.

You point out, of course, that you don't have the car. You tell them that your ex took it in the divorce and agreed to pay for it, so you're not liable.

Unfortunately, you may be wrong. If you and your ex are still both on that loan together, you are liable. It doesn't matter that you got divorced. It doesn't matter that your ex said he or she would pay.

Remember, the lender doesn't care about your personal life or your relationship. You signed that piece of paper saying you'd be responsible for the debt. If they're not getting paid, all they care about is that signature.

Now, perhaps this hasn't happened yet. You're just starting the divorce process. If so, take this story as a warning. Your assets are not the only thing to divide during a divorce. You also need to divide your debts. Make sure you really understand how this process works, what obligations you have and what legal steps to take to protect yourself.

Source: The Balance, "A Guide to the Most Common Financial Issues of Divorce," Deborah Fowles, accessed Feb. 16, 2018

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