Are you going to have to pay your ex’s debts in divorce?

| Sep 27, 2019 | Property Division |

Financial issues are one of the leading reasons that people get divorced. There is a broad range of financial issues that can lead to a couple ending a marriage. Someone with a gambling problem who destroys the family’s savings account, for example, could likely face divorce. Financial infidelity, or the practice of intentionally misleading your spouse or partner about your financial circumstances, can also contribute to the end of a relationship.

If you want to divorce your ex because of how bad they are with money, you will likely find yourself worrying about what obligations you have related to their debt. After all, the state of Georgia uses an equitable distribution standard which means that you both share in the responsibility for marital debts.

While you may want to make sure you get your fair share of marital assets, you may be much less enthusiastic about the potential for paying off your ex’s student loans or credit card debt. Exploring how Georgia handles significant debt can help you better understand what will likely occur as your divorce moves forward.

As with assets, some debts are marital while others are separate

When it comes to determining if an asset or debt is part of your marital estate or separate property, the easiest approach is typically to look at when you acquired the assets or incurred the debt. Even if your name is the only name on your retirement account or your spouse’s name is the only name on the credit card, chances are good that you both have an ownership interest or obligation.

Deposits made during your marriage, even if only one spouse made them, will typically be subject to division. Debts incurred during the marriage, even if it was only one spouse spending the money, will also often be subject to division. Debts that you owed prior to marriage often remain separate.

The courts will also look at the circumstances under which you accrued the debt. If one spouse can make the claim that the other did not disclose important financial information to the other, the courts may not hold the one who was unaware responsible for those debts. However, if you turned a blind eye to your spouse going on shopping sprees, the courts may expect you to help repay some of that debt.

Even student loans can wind up divided in a divorce

If your spouse finished or went back to school while you were married, you may wind up sharing in the responsibility for the repayment of their student loans. Can they make the claim to the courts that the intention was to improve the financial circumstances of the family or the earning potential of one spouse?

If so, it is possible that the courts will consider student loans accrued during the marriage as marital debt that both spouses need to help repay. Of course, equitable division focuses on what is fair and just, not just on what is even. Special and unique circumstances can influence how the courts divide your debts and assets, including medical conditions or earning potential.

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