How Marital Debt Is Divided In A Divorce

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When a couple divorces, their marital assets are divided between them. Their debts, too, are divided. Property and debt distribution is part of any divorce, regardless of the length of the couple’s marriage.

Couples can make this portion of their divorce easier for themselves by working to eliminate their shared debt before filing for divorce, creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that states how their assets and debts are to be divided in a divorce, or by filing for bankruptcy jointly and completing the process before filing for divorce. Another option that can make property and debt distribution easier for a couple is to make these distributions themselves and submit their plan to the court. This is only possible if the couple agrees to a distribution plan. Couples in this position can choose to divorce completely out of court through collaborative divorce.

Types of Debt a Couple can Have

Any debt that an individual had before entering the marriage is separate debt, meaning that only its holder is responsible for its repayment. An exception to this is if the parties commingle their debt by transferring it to a jointly held credit card or refinancing an asset, such as a house or a vehicle, in both parties’ names. Similarly, any debt accrued by only one party, such as a credit card owned by only one partner, belongs solely to him or her.

Debts accrued by both parties, on the other hand, are subject to distribution in their divorce. These debts can include:

  • Medical bills;
  • Student loans;
  • Car loans;
  • Mortgage loans; and
  • Business debt.

Even when debt appears to be primarily for one party’s benefit, it is considered marital property if the partners cosigned for it or if it was used to improve their quality of life.

Debt, Like Assets, is Subject to Equitable Distribution

Equitable distribution is a balancing act on the court’s part. When one partner receives a greater share of his or her marital assets, he or she may also receive a larger share of the couple’s debt in order to “balance” each partner’s share of the marital estate. Like with property distribution, the court considers a variety of factors when distributing a couple’s marital debt, such as:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • Each partner’s income and separate assets;
  • Each partner’s age and health;
  • Whether either partner left the workforce or experienced a temporary career setback to benefit the couple and their family;
  • Each partner’s contribution to the debt in question; and
  • Whether either party intentionally depleted marital funds after filing for divorce.

Work with an Experienced Tampa Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering filing for divorce in the near future, contact our team of experienced Tampa divorce lawyers at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. to schedule your initial consultation in our office. Dividing debt can be tough, and if you are not careful, your divorce can leave you in a greater amount of debt than you had when you initially filed to end your marriage.

Resource:

law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/11/302

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