Maryland residents who go through a divorce should seek to take every precaution possible to protect themselves from financial missteps that might be made — by the former spouse or them — after the marriage ends. One woman thought she had done just that in the wake of her divorce back in 2001 and found out later that there were holes in the decree.

The couple’s divorce documents declared that her husband was responsible for their outstanding debt as part of their  property division arrangements. However, years later the woman started getting calls claiming that she owed thousands of dollars in debt that she knew she hadn’t personally incurred. After looking into the matter, she discovered that her ex-husband had evidently added more than $20,000 on joint accounts that had remained open.

One thing that divorcing or divorced Marylanders can learn from this woman’s situation is the importance of making the closing down of joint accounts a condition of property division. By stipulating that requirement in a divorce decree, individuals provide themselves with an extra layer of protection.

The ideal situation is to be sure that these and other potential issues are addressed before a decree is signed. But in cases such as the one here, options still remain for correcting things. One option open to this woman might be to sue the ex for racking up debt on the joint accounts after the divorce had been finalized. Another option might be to request that the court hold the ex in contempt — a jailable offense — for not following the stipulations of the divorce decree.

Hopefully, the relating of this woman’s unfortunate experience will help others as they face the prospect of property division as part of divorce. It is possible, with the help of experienced legal help, to find healthy and comprehensive agreements that protect everyone’s best interest.

Source: Fox Business, ” What to Do if Your Ex Sticks You With the Bill,” Steve Bucci, Oct. 4, 2012