Dealing with Marital Debt during Divorce
In addition to couples having to deal with property division when they are going through a divorce, division of marital debt is yet another issue that they must either agree upon or have a court decide on for them.
Similarly to the division of property and assets, Florida courts will split up marital debt via equitable distribution after determining what is separate and non-marital versus what is martial liability (or debt). In the same way that non-marital property is not subject to division, the courts have the discretion and are willing to assign a particular amount of debt to one of the spouses if they mostly incurred that debt (i.e. it is “non-marital”). Otherwise, they will typically divide up debt equally and assign the responsibility of paying it back to each person.
The same state law that governs the equitable distribution of marital assets also applies to marital liabilities. The court begins with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for unequal distribution based on several factors:
- The contribution to the marriage by each spouse;
- The economic circumstances of the parties;
- The duration of the marriage;
- Any interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities of either party;
- Any contributions of one spouse to the career or educational opportunities of the other;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, enhancement, and production of income or the improvement of, or the incurring of liabilities to, both the marital assets and the non-marital assets of the parties; and
- Any other factors necessary to do equity and justice between the parties.
Examples of Marital Debt
Marital debt can range from credit cards that were taken out in both names, to loans received to buy a house. It can also apply to any family businesses operated collectively. However, it is important to note that both spouses’ names are not always required to be associated with a purchase in order for it to be considered marital debt.
Examples of non-marital liabilities include any liabilities incurred by the parties prior to the marriage or liabilities excluded by valid written agreement of the parties. However, all liabilities incurred by either spouse subsequent to the date of the marriage and not specifically established as non-marital liabilities are presumed to be marital liabilities.
Protect Yourself from Collectors
If you are going through a divorce and anticipate issues arising from the division of marital debt, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced attorney. It is especially crucial if you are concerned about your spouse potentially incurring additional debt that you may both be responsible for before the separation date, and/or if you are concerned that your spouse may not pay the debt assigned to them by the court.
Contact Us for Help with Property Distribution during Divorce
If you are facing divorce, you need to protect your property interests going forward. In southeast Florida, contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. for help securing your financial future.