By Chris Kramer
Just as marital or community property is divided between the parties in a divorce, the couple's marital or community debts are divided between the spouses.
Divorce laws in your state give the courts the right to divide joint debts between the couple, regardless of whose name is on the debts and who is at fault in the divorce.
The couple may be able enter into an agreement to name who should be responsible for each debt, but if the couple can't agree, the divorce court will decide how to divide the debts, much like property distribution.
In most states, the divorce courts will divide marital debt equitably, which doesn't necessarily mean equally. The divorce court will typically divide assets and debts by considering factors, such as the spouses' incomes, education, child custody, future earning potential and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Even if your divorce decree assigns certain joint debts to your spouse, you may still be responsible for those debts. If one spouse fails to pay off debts, the creditor can still bring legal action against the other spouse for the full amount of the debts.
You may then choose to file a contempt action against your former spouse for violating your divorce decree and seeking reimbursement for any amounts you have paid. In most states, you will also be entitled to your divorce attorneys' fees. Learn about protecting yourself financially from your spouse's debt by speaking with a local divorce attorney.
After the divorce court divides joint debts between a couple, one spouse may file for bankruptcy to discharge debts; however, the spouse won't be able to discharge any debts that are assigned as part of a divorce decree in bankruptcy.
To learn how debt division can affect your financial future after divorce, speak with a local divorce lawyer. Connect today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form. Get started protecting your finances by getting legal advice on how to handle the divorce process.
The above summary of marital debt is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on child support laws, speak to a divorce attorney in your area.