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Will I take on some of my spouse’s debt in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | Family Law

Divorce is a challenging process that requires splitting up marital property fairly. One aspect that often causes concern is the division of debts accumulated during the marriage.

Many individuals wonder if they will be responsible for their spouse’s debt after the separation. You can understand what the future holds by delving into the factors that influence this aspect of divorce.

Virginia equitable distribution laws

In the United States, different states follow either community property or equitable distribution laws when it comes to dividing assets and debts in a divorce. Virginia is an equitable distribution state, meaning that divorce courts aim for a fair division of assets and debts. This does not always necessarily mean a 50-50 split.

Debts acquired during the marriage

Debts acquired during the marriage, whether in the form of credit card balances, mortgages or other obligations, are often subject to division during divorce proceedings. The court examines factors such as the purpose of the debt, who incurred it and how it benefited the marital partnership.

Separate debts vs. joint debts

In some cases, spouses may have individual debts that they brought into the marriage. These are separate debts and are typically the responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. However, if you combine these with joint marital assets, determining responsibility can become more complex.

Factors influencing debt division

Courts consider various factors when determining how to allocate debts in a divorce. The financial situation of each spouse, their contributions to the marriage and their ability to repay debts are relevant considerations. If one spouse has a significantly higher income or greater financial resources, they may receive a larger share of the debts.

Studies show that 340 million Americans carry some form of debt, so it is only reasonable to assume that many will carry that debt into a divorce. Knowing your obligations toward a soon-to-be ex-spouse’s debts is important for navigating property division smoothly.