When people get divorced, the judge will issue an order that not only divides the property of the respective spouses, but also allocates the responsibility to pay any debts. People need to be aware that creditors, however, do not have to follow a family court's order and may still pursue whomever they can for repayment of a debt.
Joint accounts are applied for together; in the event that one spouse is assigned responsibility to pay off any debt, creditors may still pursue the other spouse if payments are tardy. This may result in one spouse's credit history becoming badly damaged.
Since Arizona is also a community property state, the individual accounts held by either spouse may appear on the credit report of the other. Even if a spouse who individually owns an account is also allocated complete responsibility for repayment, the creditor may go after the other spouse for the portion that accrued during the marriage.
In the event that a spouse who is ordered to pay a debt fails to do so, the other spouse may have to file a motion for contempt in the court holding jurisdiction. The court may then take steps necessary to enforce its order by enacting punitive measures designed to garner payment of the ordered amount. Understanding the complexities of property division and the allocation of debt in a divorce is vital. In the event that a person is worried their spouse may not pay a debt that he or she may be assigned, negotiating up-front payments may be necessary. People may want to discuss the debts they accrued during their marriages with their family law attorney. An attorney may be able to craft an agreement that helps avoid future potential credit issues.