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Do I Have to Pay for My Spouse’s Debts?

When two people get married, it often makes sense to combine finances. Spouses open joint bank accounts and combine their incomes to help each other pay off debts–both pre-existing debts and new ones acquired during the marriage. In many situations, spouses may depend on one another to be able to cover their monthly bills. This can all lead to a messy situation if the spouses decide to get divorced.

During a divorce, Florida law requires the fair and equitable division of all jointly-owned property and this law applies to debts, as well. However, dividing up debts can be complex, especially if some debts are owned individually and others jointly. The name on the debt does not always mean that person will be solely responsible for the payments, however, and it is important to discuss debt division with an experienced divorce attorney who understands the relevant law. The following is some brief information regarding the division of certain debts in divorce:

Student Loans

Student loans are often individual debts unless the spouses cosigned on the loans or the loans were acquired during the marriage. In such cases, the loans would be considered marital debt and you may be held responsible for sharing the payment unless you and your spouse can agree otherwise. However, even if you agree that your spouse will be responsible for the loans, your name will likely remain on the loans and any failure to repay could affect your credit.

Credit Card Debt  

Credit cards are generally in the name of one person only and the other spouse is generally made an authorized user. However, if the debt was incurred during the marriage, it will likely be considered marital debt regardless of whose name is on the account. One exception to this may occur if your spouse purposely racked up a significant amount of debt in anticipation of the divorce. In such cases, a court may determine that debt will be their responsibility.

Mortgage

If you and your spouse bought a home together, your mortgage will likely be the largest debt you have. In many cases, especially if you do not have children, you may decide to sell the house to eliminate the debt all at once. However, if your spouse decides to stay in the home, you will likely have your part of the debt bought out. If you stay in the home and you cannot afford to buy your spouse out of the mortgage, you may be able to come up with another way to make up for it, such as giving them a greater portion of your assets or other property.

Contact a Divorce Attorney in Boca Raton for Help

When you are facing divorce, you likely already have enough financial concerns without having to worry about paying your spouse’s debts. Experienced divorce attorney Alan R. Burton knows how to fight for your right to a fair division of debt in line with Florida property division laws. In addition, Mr. Burton will assist in ensuring all child or spousal support determinations are fair so that you can emerge from your divorce in the best financial situation possible. We offer free consultations, so please contact our office at 954-229-1660 for help today.