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How is debt divided in divorce?

Now that you are divorcing, you face the overwhelming task of dividing your marital assets and debts. You may be apprehensive about splitting your retirement accounts, family home and savings, but the prospect of assuming your spouse’s debts may be even more alarming.

Maybe they have accumulated a substantial amount of credit card debt, student loans or pushed to purchase a new lake house. You do not think that you should have to carry your spouse’s debt with you into your new life. Will the Pennsylvania courts agree?

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state

If you and your spouse cannot settle on an agreeable property division settlement, the court will be responsible for dividing your marital assets and debts. As an equitable distribution state, the court seeks to equitably, or fairly, divide assets and debts between spouses. Therefore, debt from a family home or credit card debt acquired during your marriage will probably be shared.

However, equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution. The court will evaluate each spouse’s circumstances to determine a fair split for your debt. One spouse may be awarded more debt than the other.

Debt assumed before marriage

Equitable property division applies to marital property, but not separate property. Separate property is an individual’s property outside of the marriage. This could include items such as a gift to one spouse, an inheritance or something acquired before or after your marriage.

Therefore, if your spouse assumed a large amount of debt before marriage, you may be protected from splitting these debts after divorce. But, the court may still take this debt into consideration as they divide assets between you and your spouse.

Property division can be tricky. Discussing your situation with a family law attorney can be valuable to explain your situation within the bounds of Pennsylvania’s divorce laws.

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