While many people focus on how the marital assets will be divided in a divorce, often it is the way the marital debt is divided that has the most far-reaching consequences for the spouses. If you are considering a divorce, you need to understand how your marital debts may be divided.
Are All Debts Subject to Division?
Under Illinois law, only debts and assets acquired after the marriage or commingled after the marriage are subject to being divided by the court. There are important exceptions to the rule; however, the court generally begins by assuming something is a marital debt.
If a debt was entered into prior to the marriage, or if the debt was made solely for the benefit of one spouse, then it may be possible to convince the court that the debt should remain with the debtor spouse and not divided or counted as part of the marital estate.
It is best to have a full understanding of the marital finances and the finances of each spouse separately when working on dividing debts.
What Happens to Credit Card Debts?
Judges in Illinois have the power to divide debts and property equitably. This does not mean equally. Instead, it means to divide things fairly given all of the circumstances. Judges often take into account each spouse’s earning power, ability to pay the debts, and the other assets each spouse has when dividing debts.
One problem many married couples have is that the credit card debt is in the name of both spouses and both spouses are legally obligated on the debt. Even if the judge rules that your ex-spouse should pay off the credit card bill, if your name is on the bill and your spouse fails to pay, then the credit card company or its debt collectors are allowed to come after you to get the debt paid off.
You may entitled to get the court to order your spouse to reimburse you, but if they did not pay the credit card in the first place, he or she is unlikely to pay you back any time soon.
Before filing for a divorce, you should make sure you know how much debt there is and how the debt was acquired. With the help of an experienced lawyer, you may be able to protect your future finances by limiting the debt you take on and getting your spouse to meet his or her financial obligations.
If you have questions about divorce and debts, you need to speak with a DuPage County divorce lawyer right away. Call Sullivan Taylor & Gumina, P.C. today at 630-665-7676 to schedule a consultation.