Debt Division and Family Law

The debt owed by the parties on the date of separation also must be identified, valued and allocated between the spouses.

There is no presumption that debt is marital.  The party who claims a debt is marital must prove the debt was incurred for a marital purpose, such as for groceries, clothes, family vacations, healthcare, etc. Debt owed before marriage is that party’s separate debt.  Depending on the circumstances, school loans incurred during the marriage may be considered marital debt subject to allocation between the spouses. If the family unit received no benefit during the marriage from the financed education or training, then the debt may be allocated to the person who incurred the debt.

The debt secured by real estate, vehicles and boats usually is assigned to be paid by the person who receives the asset.  Credit card debt is usually allocated to the person who is obligated to pay the credit card debt.  Joint debts should be paid off and the accounts closed as soon as practical.  You and your spouse should consider getting your credit reports from Experian, Transunion and Equifax at so you can determine the amount of debt incurred by each spouse or jointly.  You may also want to lock down lines of credit or credit cards so no one can run up the debt in your name.

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