How will debt be divided in my divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2022 | Divorce |

In many California divorces, one of the main concerns is property division. That could include a marital home, bank accounts, investments, automobiles, items of sentimental value and more. In addition to property, they also need to consider how debts and liabilities will be split.

Just as people will disagree over who gets to retain various properties and if they will be dispersed, they can also face discord over who is responsible for paying for items that were purchased and other debts that might have been accumulated.

During a divorce, it is important to understand the law for debts and liabilities

Under state law, the way debts and liabilities are split between the parties can vary and hinge on the circumstances of each case. If there were debts that one of the spouses garnered prior to the marriage, that person will be responsible for it after the divorce. An example could be an automobile that they purchased beforehand and are still paying for. The other party will not be obligated to pay for the outstanding debt.

For debts that were amassed after the couple was married but prior to their separation, the court has some leeway. Still, if there are debts that go beyond community assets and quasi-community assets (property that is part separate and part marital), it will try to come to what it considers a fair resolution and pay attention to which side has a greater ability to pay.

If there are debts accrued after the couple has separated and before the divorce was completed, the court will look at the details. Debts for necessities like food, rent, mortgage payments, auto repair, school supplies for children and clothing, the court will base its decision on who has greater wherewithal to pay it. For nonessential purchases, the person who bought the items will generally be expected to pay for it.

Debt can be a worrisome issue in a divorce and having help is advisable

California is a community property state meaning that anything acquired after the marriage will be split evenly. This differs from equitable distribution states where the courts will strive to reach a reasonable result while assessing the factors of the acquisition. Basically, the same is true with debt.

People may have arguments for not paying or sharing certain debts. That can include purchases they were unaware of or items that both sides did not agree to buy. Perhaps negotiation can be effective or selling the property can help with eliminating the debt. For these potentially complicated disputes, it is useful to have experienced help from professionals who are well-versed in all aspects of divorce.