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Will I end up with excess debt after divorce?

Divorce is challenging. Even in situations where both spouses are on relatively good speaking terms with an uncontested divorce, there are still legal issues that will need addressing. For those in contested divorce situations, the issues can require even more action. One of the more common concerns among couples, though, is how to deal with debt.

To understand how debt works in divorce, one must first understand how the law works. Florida is an "equitable division" state. This means the courts considers individual circumstances when deciding how to divide assets and debts. Assets and debts are not automatically split down the middle. Rather, the court will make a decision on how to divide marital assets and debts based on what is fair.

If you are someone who is either thinking of filing for divorce, the "equitable division" rules still leaves a lot up in the air when it comes to debt. What is a marital debt? Are all debts the same? What about a debt in just one person's name, but accrued during the marriage?

For specific questions such as these, it is advisable to seek out legal guidance through a trusted attorney. At Winter Spires & Associates, P.A., we work with everyday Florida residents who are going through a divorce. One of the many areas we focus on is divorce and the division of debts.

Specific circumstances play a role in debt division

While there are no hard and fast rules, a Daily Finance article does a great job of explaining some of the different scenarios. For example, if a spouse secretly racked up credit card debt -- on something not intended for both spouses and only in his or her name -- there is a pretty good chance a judge will look at the scenario and decide only the spouse who took out the credit card should be responsible.

Keep in mind the courts will also look at individual circumstances such as:

  • Is the debt an actual marital debt?
  • Did the spouse have this debt when coming into the marriage?
  • How long did the marriage last?
  • Did one spouse bring in a lot of debt from a previous marriage?

These are just some of the questions the courts will weigh when deciding how to divide debts. Remember to share any and all information as it relates to assets and debts with your attorney.

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