How is Debt Handled During a Divorce?
When people are getting divorced, they often wonder who will get the family home, business interests, assets, and other property. However, many people fail to consider how they will divide their debts in a divorce. Most married couples have some type of debt, and the debts you will be responsible for paying can affect you for years to come. You want to ensure you have the right Tampa divorce lawyer protecting your rights to a fair distribution of debt in your divorce.
Florida law requires the equitable distribution of property, assets, and debts in a divorce. It is important to remember that “equitable” does not necessarily mean 50/50 and, instead, courts will determine what is a fair division of debts based on all the circumstances. For example, if one spouse gets more property, such as a house, they also may be responsible for a larger part of the debts to balance everything out. The court will consider all of a couple’s property and debts to ensure the overall division is fair.
Only marital property and debts are divided between spouses, as each spouse will retain responsibility for any debts that are considered to be separate. Generally speaking, the following debts are often considered to be marital debts:
- Mortgages and home equity credit lines
- Auto loans
- Credit cards
- Student loans for education during the marriage
- Personal loans
- Business loans
Determining marital debt can be trickier than you may imagine. For example, if you had a mortgage prior to the marriage and your spouse moved into the house, it may still be a marital mortgage even though it existed before you were married. This is because the spouse benefitted from the home and likely contributed to the mortgage payments, which can make it marital debt.
Further, just because debts are only in one spouse’s name does not necessarily mean it will be separate debt. Even if you got a credit card in your name only, you may have used it to purchase things for the benefit of your marriage, such as household goods, vacations, and more. Because your spouse benefitted from the credit card debt, they should be responsible for a portion of it. The same goes for auto loans or other accounts opened during a marriage.
Spouses can decide what they think is a fair division of debts, and the court will need to approve the proposed distribution. However, if spouses cannot agree, the court will rule on the division of debts for them. It is important to have the help of an experienced lawyer who can help with negotiation or mediation to keep you out of court when possible.
Contact a Tampa Family Law Attorney for More Information Today
The Law Office of Mark G. Rodriguez, P.A. knows that debt division orders can affect your financial future, and we fight for fair rulings for our clients. Call 813-227-9642 or contact us online to discuss your situation today.