Dealing With Debt After Divorce
Not every couple who walks down the aisle ends up living happily ever after. Statistics show that around 40% of marriages end in divorce. Divorce is never easy, even when the split is amicable. There are many legal aspects to decide on in a divorce, such as property division and child custody. What many couples sometimes overlook is that debt needs to be divided as well.
That’s right—those student loans and credit card bills aren’t going to magically disappear in a divorce. They still need to be paid, but the question is, who’s going to pay them? If the debt is solely in your name, such as a student loan or car loan, then it makes sense that you would be the responsible party. But what about the mortgage or the joint credit cards? How are those going to get split up?
It depends. There are no clear guidelines for dividing up debt in a divorce. It will vary largely by location. In Florida, only marital debts are divided in a divorce. Marital debts can include any type of debt in which both parties are co-signers on the loan. This includes mortgages, home equity loans, credit cards, car loans, personal loans and business debt.
The state follows the rules of equitable distribution. This means that debts are divided fairly, but that does not necessarily mean that they will be split 50/50. It will depend on how the debt was accumulated, as well as the length of the marriage, each person’s earning capacity and contributions to the marriage.
The judge will decide which party will be responsible for each debt, unless you and your spouse want to agree on that by yourselves. Keep in mind, though, that even if your spouse is deemed responsible for the debt, if your name is on it, you could still be held liable. For example, if the judge makes your spouse liable for the joint credit card debt, and he or she does not pay it, then you are still on the hook for payment. If the payment is not made on time, then your credit score will suffer. Therefore, it’s a good idea to communicate with your spouse about making timely payments. Try to pay these off as quickly as possible so you have peace of mind.
When joint accounts are involved, be sure to close them as soon as possible. This will prevent the other spouse from racking up further debt. You should also try to get your name off any joint accounts.
Seek Legal Help
Asset division can be hard enough to deal with in a divorce. Splitting up debt is even more difficult because nobody wants to be responsible for it. However, it’s just an unfortunate effect of every divorce, like it or not.
Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Edward J. Jennings, P.A. can help you deal with the various aspects of your divorce. He can assist you with all the legal, technical and emotional aspects. Schedule a consultation today by calling 954-764-4330 or filling out the online form.