When thinking about how to divide assets and property, it is easy to overlook debt, and how it will be divided between the individuals.
If both parties in the divorce are able to come to an agreement about how they will split their debt, the court will usually honor that agreement. However, if they cannot come to agreement about how to divide it, the judge will determine how it is to be divided.
When debt is equitably divided, the judge considers all aspects of the debt, of the divorce, of each individual and their circumstances. It is important to know that debts will most likely not be split down the middle if the judge is the one who has to divide it; it is equitable, not equal. For example, if the item or service is used exclusively by one person, generally, the other will not be forced to pay the debt for it.
Debts entered into during marriage
All debt entered into after the marriage is usually deemed marital debt. The house, a boat, or a car are all things that may have debt attributed to them, and will often be split between the two parties. However, there are some exceptions. For example, if you and your spouse bought a boat together during marriage, and then you kept it for yourself afterward, you would also be primarily responsible for the debt associated with the boat. Medical expenses on behalf of any minor children will also be split between the couple. If one party keeps an item with debt, such as a vehicle with a payment, then both asset and debt may be awarded accordingly. Parties need to remember that there is usually no benefit without the accompanying burden, and visa-versa.
Debts entered into before marriage, and personal debts
Any debts either party entered into before marriage will generally stay with the individual whose debt it is, so long as it has not been commingled. The same may also apply to debts entered into for solely one person, especially if it is not used as a marital asset. For example, if (while married) you went into debt to buy an expensive personal computer for your own private use, you will likely hold onto that debt upon divorce. Proving this can be difficult sometimes, because it is not always completely clear who had sole use of a product or service.
Legal issues are not simple. There is not an easy, bright-line on every issue, espite what a relative or bar-buddy may tell you. You should get excellent representation, and you will at the Huntsman Firm.