The fair division of debt in a divorce

When you make the decision to divorce, you know your life is going to change in numerous ways. You may have to find a new place to live, you may have to adjust to life on less income, and you could have less time with your kids. While all of these issues represent new circumstances to which you will have to adjust, you will also have to adjust to your new financial situation quickly. Regardless of your income or your spouse’s income, both parties will face changes and challenges. 

As you consider your financial future after divorce, you will also need to consider what will happen to the debt accumulated over the course of your marriage. It is important to seek terms that do not burden you with an unreasonable amount of debt. While emotions are high during divorce, it is important to remember that you are making decisions that could impact you for years to come. 

Steps to addressing your marital debt reasonably 

In a divorce, all marital property is subject to division. This means that anything you bought, collected, earned or accumulated over the course of the marriage is eligible for division between the spouses. A judge could be the one to determine how to divide property, or you and the other spouse could decide through negotiations and discussions. The same can occur for your marital debt. As you prepare to negotiate or seek a specific outcome in court, the following steps are important: 

  • Make a list of all your debt. 
  • Determine if some debts are separate and which are joint. 
  • Separate accounts and stop accumulating marital debts. 
  • Have a plan by which you will pay off your remaining balances, if possible. 
  • Gather important financial documents and get a copy of your credit report. 

These are all steps that can help set you up for success as you pursue a fair and sustainable financial order after your divorce. If you are unsure of how to fight for your desired outcome or how to determine how much of your debt to divide in your divorce, you will benefit from seeking professional guidance before you move forward. Financial issues in divorce can be complex, but you do not have to navigate these concerns alone.