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How Are Debts Divided in a Divorce?

During the divorce process, all marital assets and property are subject to division. However, in addition to divvying up their assets, spouses must also split the debts they incurred throughout their marriage. Of course, having to divide debt can make anyone uncomfortable, especially if you have concerns about taking on debt that you believe you should not be responsible for. If your debts are not insurmountable, you and your spouse might want to consider paying them off before you move forward with the divorce process. If they are too great to pay off, however, the court will address this matter for you, assuming you go through the litigation process.

Dividing Marital Debts

California is a community property state, which means both assets and property are divided equally. That said, in some cases, the division might be unequal. For example, if your spouse receives a larger portion of marital property, a judge might also assign him or her more debt to balance the scales. Or, if you are awarded a motor vehicle that is not completely paid off, you will likely be responsible for the remaining debt.

If your spouse racked up debts by wastefully dissipating assets, a judge might rectify this by awarding you more marital assets or assigning more debt to your wasteful spouse. In such cases, assets and debt will not be split down the middle due to your spouse’s behavior.

Addressing Pre-Marital Debts

If your spouse entered the marriage with a substantial amount of debt, which you helped pay off, California law states that a spouse may be entitled to reimbursement. For example, if your soon-to-be spouse had a lot of credit card debt when you said, “I do,” community property was used to pay it off since the debt was paid after you entered the marriage. Therefore, you can recover some of what was used to address your spouse’s pre-marital debts.

Debt Assignment

The debt a judge assigns to you is your responsibility to pay off. If you fail to do so, creditors will not only pursue you, but your former spouse as well. In such cases, the other spouse can petition the court to enforce the divorce settlement. Unfortunately, even if you file for bankruptcy in an attempt to discharge the debts, creditors might still seek repayment from your ex.

Reach Out to a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney Today!

If you are moving forward with a divorce, reach out to the experienced family law team at Myers Family Law for the exceptional legal guidance and advice you deserve. We understand how complex this process can be, especially if you and your spouse have a substantial amount of debt. You can rely on our team to ensure you reach the best possible resolution for your situation, so you can start a brighter, more hopeful chapter in your life. With over two decades of collective experience in family law, you can feel confident in choosing to work with us.

Reach out to our law firm today at (916) 634-0067 to set up a low-cost 30-minute case evaluation with a compassionate member of our legal team.

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