Marital debt is a real thing, especially if you and your soon-to-be-ex have been sharing finances throughout your marriage. Because marital debt is in the same category as marital assets, these debts are divided equally. Most courts feel that a 50/50 split is a good place to start, but any judge can decide that one person gets more or less debt than the other. In many modern divorces, it’s all about dividing the debt rather than the assets because of significant credit card debt and upside-down loans on homes. Here are a few of your questions answered about marital debt.

How Does a Judge Decide if the Debt is Marital or Just Personal?

There are three ways to categorize debt during a divorce: marital, separate, or hybrid. Generally speaking, any debt that was incurred during the actual marriage is considered marital debt. If your credit card debt, for example, consists of cell phone payments and gas for a car that has both of your names on it, this is clearly marital debt and will be considered such. There are exceptions, such as large items (a boat or a car are two very common examples) that would count more as liabilities or even assets depending on how much of a loan is left. If a boat was bought without permission by one spouse or another, then you are more than welcome to bring that up in court so the loan for the boat goes strictly to the person who decided to purchase it.

Debt from Gifts Bought By a Spouse

Let’s say one person in the marriage went out and bought a replacement wedding band at some point on a credit card. This is considered a gift from one party to another, but this kind of gift is considered marital debt and will likely be split between both parties. If you insist on keeping the gift, then the debt will definitely be split even if you argue against splitting it.

50/50 Division of Debt – is It Possible?

While most courts will consider the possibility of dividing a debt 50/50, especially if both parties are interested in this sort of solution, it’s unlikely. Oftentimes, the party that has the largest amount of income will get more of the debt because generally speaking, that person will have an easier time paying off the debt when they make more money. This is the most likely split of most debt classified as marital, though some individual items may go to one party or the other because of technicalities.

Divorcing can ruin your finances for a little while, but with a good divorce lawyer and a cooperative ex, splitting marital debt can go as quickly as any other part of divorce.