For those contemplating divorce, it is important to do all that they can to get out from under joint debt before they divorce. If they are unable to, they may have things happen to the debt that they cannot control.

For instance, in some cases, a joint home equity line of credit can be rolled over into a modified home loan with the ex-spouse’s name still attached to the loan. Typical divorce decrees only need to contain “hold harmless” language, but demand that ownership of the home be signed over to the ex-spouse who is assuming the debt and need not specify that the name of the other spouse be taken off the loan first. Those who practice law should take steps to demand that narrower and more specific language should be used in typical divorce decrees to protect those who have their names used on loans they never agreed to.

Elizabeth Chesley