Q: I cosigned my husband’s student loan. We also have a mortgage on a property we purchased. If we separate, how can I get myself out of these loans and will it be a problem?

A: You can’t simply take yourself off your husband’s student loans. He used your signature which means you are now entirely on the hook to repay these loans if he doesn’t. If a loan payment is missed on the student loans, your credit history and score will suffer. If you separate, you need to find a way to have him pay off the loans as a condition of the divorce (perhaps he can refinance the loans with family money or find cash elsewhere).

Otherwise, until the loans are paid off, you will always have to worry about your credit history and score, and whether you’ll qualify for additional financing.

This problem crops up often when it comes to parents helping children purchase property or unmarried partners who decide to purchase property, autos, or get credit cards. Parents co-sign loans for their children, only to find their own credit has been tarnished when the child goes AWOL and stops paying on the loan. Unmarried partners who co-sign loans for each other find they’re in a barrel of trouble if they break up.

Protecting your credit is key. You’ll need to devote some time to negotiating how these loans will be settled with your spouse should you separate. You should take some time to talk to a credit counselor or a divorce attorney about this issue.