Dividing Debts During Divorce
After deciding to get a divorce, a couple must go through the process of dividing their marital property. While most people associate this with dividing assets, such as real estate and funds held in a savings account, many are unaware that under Florida law, which requires couples to divide their property equitably upon divorce, couples must also divide their debts. How debts are divided during a divorce can have serious financial repercussions, so if you are going through a divorce and are concerned about your spouse’s debts, it is important to contact an experienced property division lawyer who can ensure that your interests are represented.
Florida Property Division Laws
Florida is a community property state, which means that all assets acquired by a couple during a marriage must be divided equitably upon divorce. This applies to bank account funds, retirement accounts, real estate, personal property, and investments alike, regardless of whether they are titled jointly or are only in one spouse’s name. However, this rules does not apply to separate property, which is a term used to describe assets or property that was acquired by a single party prior to the marriage. Unlike marital assets, separate property does not need to be divided equitably upon divorce, but will remain the sole property of the original owner.
How are Debts Divided?
Debts acquired during a marriage, like any other marital asset, must be divided equitably if a couple decides to get a divorce, so if a couple has debts for items that they purchased while they were married, that debt will be divided between them. Similarly, personal debts that existed before the marriage took place are not subject to the equitable distribution process. There is also a second category of debt that is not subject to division by the courts. This category includes debts acquired during a couple’s marriage that:
- Are listed only in one spouse’s name;
- Are not paid with marital funds; and
- Are used as separate property.
For example, if one spouse takes out a credit card, but none of the charges contained on it have contributed to the marriage, it could be considered separate debt. When a debt is deemed marital, it will be divided equitably between the parties and while courts presume that assets should be split 50/50, equitable does not mean equal, so one spouse may find him or herself paying off the majority of the family debt. This is especially true in situations where certain factors, such as the duration of the marriage and the contributions made by each spouse, indicate that one spouse should be responsible for most of the family debt.
Get the Legal Representation You Deserve
While many couples are able to come to out-of-court agreements regarding property division, this is not always possible. Please call 954-945-7591 today to discuss your case with experienced Fort Lauderdale property division Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. Initial consultations are conducted free of charge, so please don’t hesitate to call or contact us online.