Deborah Zitomer Esquire, LLC
Advocating for Families In Norristown and Montgomery County Since 1990
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Divorce Is Also About Dividing Debt

If you decide to divorce from your spouse, one of the things you will need to contend with if there is any disagreement about division of assets is the legal notion of "equitable distribution." This does not mean that everything in marriage is divided up by an even 50/50, but instead looks at what is fair for one or the other spouse to keep, especially if one spouse has much greater financial worth than the other.

However, while most people worry about fairly dividing up the things that are owned, there is another aspect of equitable distribution that looks at what is owed. When it comes time to divorce, you also have to look at who is going to pay off certain debts.

Marital Debt

In the same way that some assets and property are considered marital property if they were acquired after a marriage, the same goes for debt. If a person previously owned a home and was paying that mortgage before the marriage, that would be considered that person's debt. However, if a couple buys a home together, and then divorces before the mortgage is paid, it is considered a marital debt, and part of the equitable distribution process will be to determine who-if anyone-can carry on paying the mortgage, or, failing that, selling the home off to cancel a debt neither spouse is capable of carrying alone.

When it comes time to evaluate equitable distribution for debts, everything is on the table. Loans the couple took out, taxes, and even big credit card bills may be considered a martial debt if the person that ran up the debt did so on a credit card acquired after the marriage.

This is why if you have a complex financial situation, you should get an experienced divorce lawyer to help with the process. Dividing debt can be a complex task, but it is made easier with a guide and advocate working on your behalf who is familiar with both the legal and financial aspects of equitable distribution in a divorce.

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