What Happens to Marital Debt After a Divorce?


Undoubtedly, you wish it was as simple as a magic wand.  Almost all couples would revel in the thought of marital debt being wiped out after a divorce.  Realistically, it’s just not feasible.  Obviously, creditors have their own expectations concerning payment.

Not surprisingly, the National Center for Family and Marriage Research cites financial instability as a huge source of marital discord.  It could be that one partner uses credit cards to an extreme.  Meanwhile, his or her spouse may be far more frugal.   In many cases, it’s as simple as more money going out than coming in.

At this point, you might not even care that you are not alone in the reasons for your breakup.  Bottom line.   What will happen with the debt accumulated during the course of your marriage?

Marital Debt and Equitable Distribution

When it comes to equitable distribution, many prospective couples thing it only applies to assets.  They turn their focus to dividing everything from real property to kitchen appliances.  (And, yes, it sometimes does get down to nitty gritty.)

However, it’s not as simple as that.  After all, how fair would it be to essentially stick one partner with the debt and leave the other with the fruits of the marital labor?   And yes, this was a rather blunt statement.  However, sometimes, it is necessary to be frank.

If you are initiating a divorce or have been served with papers requesting one, you should not just concentrate on your marital assets.  In fact, one of the first things you should do is sit down and make a list of the money you owe.

For some, this may be a challenging assignment.  In fact, it may be an eye-opener of sorts.   However, how can you possibly consider equitable distribution of debt if you don’t even know how much debt the two of you have accumulated?

Negotiating Marital Debt

You may try to make the argument that your spouse was solely authorized to use a particular credit card.   Or, that your soon to be ex amassed the debt with another relative.  Nevertheless, this information should be relayed to your divorce lawyer.

Arguably, it’s not just credit cards that can be an area of concern.  Think again.  For example, maybe your ex took out a loan to purchase a boat or fancy car.   Your name doesn’t necessarily have to be listed on the purchase documents.  And, whether it is or not, your attorney should certainly be advised.

Keep in mind that there are time limitations in making claims for equitable distribution.  At any rate, you should pay particular attention to how you complete the requisite Case Information Statement.  Equitable distribution of marital debt is often based on the financial information submitted in this document.

Contact Us

At the Law Offices of Sam Stoia, we recognize that negotiation of equitable distribution of both assets and debt is crucial to a successful ending of every divorce matter.   We use our experience in family law and financial matters to help bring a satisfactory resolution for our clients. Contact our office to schedule an appointment to determine your legal rights.