Debt is a staple in many Suffolk County area homes. We take on debt in the forms of a home mortgage, car payments, medical care, credit cards, etc. So, when you and your spouse decide to get a divorce, what happens to this debt?
Marital property vs. separate property
The key consideration for asset and debt division during the divorce is whether they are separate property or marital property. Generally, separate property includes anything that was acquired before the marriage, while marital property includes anything acquired during the marriage.
There are exceptions to this rule. For instance, property inherited by one spouse during the marriage may be considered separate property. It’s also common for property to start out as separate property and later become commingled with marital property during the marriage. For example, one spouse might own a home before the marriage, but the other spouse may acquire property rights in the home during the marriage after contributing to the mortgage and upkeep of the home.
As with assets, it is important to identify if the debt is separate or marital debt. Some debts accumulated during the marriage may be separate debt. These may include:
- Gambling debts
- Separate vacations
- Personal items such as clothing, purses, shoes, etc.
- Extramarital affair expenses
However, you and your spouse will be held responsible for debt that includes:
- Household items
- Utility bills
- Credit card debt that is on a joint account
It is crucial that you provide evidence of any separate debt so that it can be passed along to your spouse. The courts will look at the remaining debt and divide it as how they feel is fair. A legal professional who is skilled in divorce can help their client understand how both asset and debt division works during the divorce process. They can make sure their client’s interests are protected both now and into the future.