How are debts divided in divorce?

If you get divorced, one of the things you'll need to think about is what happens to your debts. The easiest way for you to move forward with your divorce would be to discuss with your soon-to-be ex-spouse how to split the debt fairly. If this isn't possible, you have some alternative options.

First, know the laws for your state. In most cases, you'll receive an equitable distribution of your assets in divorce, and that includes debts. A higher-earning spouse might have to take on more debts because of this, which is something to consider, especially if the debts were not for your own uses.

If you have a student loan or debt that is in your name, it likely will be considered to be separate property. If you have helped your partner pay down debts that are in his or her name, then there is a chance that you can actually get some of that money back in your divorce if you have proof that you helped out. Your attorney can talk to you more specifically about this kind of situation if you had it in your marriage.

Another thing to think about with your debts is that not all debts are bad. For instance, one spouse might want to take on the debt of a home, because that would mean he or she would obtain the mortgage, equity and other benefits of the property. Before you decide on a settlement, run your plan by your attorney to make sure you're not getting the bad side of a deal.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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