Froerer & Miles

How Is Debt Divided in a Divorce?

By Robert L. Froerer on March 15, 2019

A person with a calculator and notepadWhen faced with divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can help protect your interests, so that the division of property and debt is fair and agreeable.

When it comes to dividing debt in a divorce, it's important to consider when the debt was acquired and for what purpose, as debt that didn't benefit both spouses or the family may not be divided equally.

At Froerer & Miles, our family law attorneys understand the complexities of dividing debt in a divorce for clients in the Salt Lake City, UT area. For help with your divorce proceedings, please contact our divorce attorneys today.

How Is Debt Divided in a Divorce?

Just like property, debt must be divided in a divorce. Divorcing spouses may decide how to divide debt in a divorce, which the court will then include in the divorce decree. If an agreement on dividing debt cannot be reached, the court will divide the debt as it sees fit.

Generally, when the court divides debts, it attempts to divide debt fairly, which isn't necessarily equally. Some debts that may be excluded from being divided include those that were incurred before marriage or those that only benefit one of the spouses. Let's take a closer look at how debts are divided in a divorce.

Equitable Division of Debts

When debts are divided by the court during a divorce, debts are not necessarily evenly divided. Many factors will be taken into consideration, such as each parties' circumstances, in an attempt to fairly divide the debts.

Divorcing couples may not end up with half of the marital debt. Instead, each spouse may be responsible for the portion of the debt that he or she incurred during the marriage.

The courts will try to avoid assigning debts to one spouse if it was solely for the benefit of the other spouse, or when only one spouse will be in possession of the property.

Debts Incurred during the Marriage Are Divided

Debts that are divided equally during a divorce generally include those that were incurred during the marriage for the benefit of the family or the marriage. This can include debt that is under one of the spouse's names.

If an item used by the family purchased with a loan or credit card is not fully paid off, the spouse who keeps the item after the divorce may be assigned the rest of the debt. However, this is not a hard rule. In some cases, the other spouse may be required to pay a portion of the remaining debt.

Debt Acquired before Marriage or for Individual Benefit Is Not Divided

Debt acquired before marriage or for the sole benefit of one of the spouses, is generally not divided in the event of a divorce. Likewise, debt incurred after the date of separation is typically not divided.

Determining which debts were acquired for the sole benefit of one spouse can be difficult to demonstrate and may not be entirely clear. In order to separate debt, the property or purchase needs to have only benefited one spouse and no one else in the family.

This means, if a spouse incurred thousands of dollars in debt for camping supplies and the other spouse never went camping, then it could be considered separate debt. However, if the other spouse never went camping but the children from the marriage did, this would not be separate debt and subject to division in a divorce.

Contact the Divorce Attorneys of Froerer & Miles

If you are facing a divorce, the experienced divorce attorneys of Froerer & Miles can help protect your interests. To schedule a private consultation, please call (801) 621-2690 at your earliest convenience.

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