The Division of Debt During a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be one of the most taxing times in a couple’s life. It can be challenging to cope with the emotional aspect of the divorce while also trying to figure out how to divide certain property and assets that are remnants of the relationship. Things can become even more complicated when the division of debt is involved.

The Importance of Marital Property vs. Non-Marital Property

The division of property and assets is typically determined by first classifying the property as either marital or non-marital. Marital property is comprised of any and all property and assets acquired by either spouse for the duration of the marriage. This is important because any property that is deemed as marital property is eligible for equitable distribution in a divorce.

On the other hand, non-marital property is not subject to equitable distribution, and is made up of assets that are owned exclusively by either spouse or assets that were acquired prior to the marriage. It is important to note that equitable distribution does not mean that the assets are divided equally, but rather that the court will look at various factors to determine how the assets should be divided fairly. In Illinois, these factors are specified in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. When debt is involved, courts use a similar process to decide how it should be allocated.

Avoid Complicating Your Divorce with Debt

Although debt has become a fairly common reality to most Americans, there is somewhat of a divide on how it is handled during a divorce. For example, in the nine states that uphold communal property laws (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin), a person who has no knowledge that their spouse racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt by opening a credit card in only their name can still be expected to be responsible for half of the debt.

In the other 41 states that follow equitable distribution laws, including Illinois, the person who is unaware of their spouse’s under-the-radar spending habits may come out of the divorce not having to pay for it. Generally, judges presiding over family courts ultimately decide the fate of each spouse’s financial obligations and the amount of money they are entitled to during a divorce. However, it does not hurt to seek the advice of a knowledgeable debt division attorney who can help reach a favorable outcome.

Ask an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Divorce can be a complex process that can be further prolonged by issues dealing with debt. If you are contemplating divorce and do not want to be on the hook for debts incurred by your spouse, contact a Wheaton debt division attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C. We will carefully review your financial information and help lessen the blow of your pending divorce.