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What Happens to Debt in Divorce?

Finances are often a huge source of stress in a marriage. If two people have different spending habits and philosophies, arguments may arise on a regular basis regarding credit card balances and other debts. Unfortunately, financial disagreements are the primary predictor that a couple will divorce, according to a study conducted by the National Survey of Families and Households. These financial troubles can not only lead to divorce, but can also cause issues for you during your divorce proceedings, as well.
In a divorce, Florida law requires that all marital property and assets by equitably divided between the divorcing spouses. The same equitable division applies to all marital debts, as well. Marital debt usually includes all debts either you or your spouse incurred during the marriage, regardless if one or both of your names is on the account. It is surprisingly common for one spouse to take out an individual credit card without the knowledge of the other, and use that credit card to make large purchases or support an unhealthy shopping habit. Unfortunately, a Boca Raton family court may likely still consider this credit card balance to be marital debt and may hold you partially responsible for repayment.

How can you get relief from debts that are not yours?

Fortunately for you, an experienced Florida family law attorney may have ways to argue that you should not be held responsible for debts that are not yours. First, the date of separation or divorce filing can be very important. For example, if you got separated or filed for divorce and your spouse proceeded to quickly rack up large amounts of debt, your lawyer could argue that your spouse was simply incurring the debt in anticipation of dividing the repayment responsibilities between the two of you. In such cases, a judge will likely decide that your spouse is solely responsible for that debt. You should always check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus prior to a divorce to show that your name was not on any of the accounts your spouse opened.
Additionally, even if the judge does divide the debt responsibility between you, your attorney can make sure the division is equitable. “Equitable” does not mean the debts will be equally divided between the two of you, but instead means the debt should be fairly divided. If a judge finds that you should repay some of your spouse’s debt, your attorney can argue that you deserve additional property in return, or that any spousal support you pay should be proportionally decreased.
Dealing with debt in a divorce is never easy, and almost every American couple has some debt in one or both of their names. Fortunately, an experienced Boca Raton divorce attorney knows how to handle debt in divorce cases to work for the best possible outcome for you.
Alan Burton is a highly committed divorce attorney with extensive experience handling all financial matters as they relate to divorce cases. If you are facing divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our office today for assistance.