Division of debts and assets during divorce

Florida individuals who are divorcing must divide debts as well as assets. Individuals should be aware that while a divorce decree may name one individual or the other as responsible for the debts, creditors might still be able to pursue either spouse.

Since Florida is not a community property state, neither spouse should be responsible for the individual debt of the other. However, if an individual shares a joint account with a spouse, that individual may be jointly responsible for the debts even if they are primarily or solely incurred by the other spouse. If an individual has a credit card that is not a joint account but authorizes the spouse to use it, debt may be reported on the credit reports of both individuals. However, the owner of the card would be the one considered responsible for it.

During and after a divorce, individuals should keep their credit ratings and credit reports in mind as they work out a divorce agreement. Individuals may wish to make certain they close all joint accounts because otherwise they could be liable for the debts incurred by the other spouse even after divorce.

Division of marital assets and debts may be complex. Issues may include determining which assets count as marital assets versus those that are separate property, ensuring that the other spouse is not concealing assets and determining the division of debt. The income potential of each spouse may be taken into consideration as well. For example, individuals may agree to divide debt based on who is best able to pay. Similar assessments may be necessary during asset division. In a high-asset divorce, asset division may be particularly complex and contentious. Individuals may wish to work with attorneys to help ensure that all assets are accounted for and divided equitably.

Source: FindLaw, "Credit and Divorce", accessed on Feb. 4, 2015

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