How to Split Marital Debt
When a couple considers splitting their marital estate in a divorce, they typically only think of the assets that the couple has accrued over the course of their marriage. However, part of the division of the marital estate also includes the splitting of marital debts. The distribution of debt in a divorce can have a drastic impact on your overall divorce settlement, which is why you need an experienced Florida divorce attorney representing your interests in the case. To learn more about how marital debt can affect your divorce, call or contact a Tampa divorce lawyer to schedule an initial consultation.
What is Marital Debt?
All debt between a couple can be split into either separate or marital debt. Separate debt is all debt that has been accrued by one spouse prior to the marriage. All separate debt remains with that spouse after a divorce. All debt that was incurred during the course of the marriage by either spouse, with certain exceptions, is marital debt. As an equitable division state, Florida law requires that all marital debt be split equitably, but not necessarily equally, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Exceptions to Marital Debt
There are some certain exceptions to the marital debt rule. If one spouse incurs debt for the benefit of themselves or someone outside of the marriage, the court may hold that spouse singularly responsible to pay it back. The most common example of this is when one spouse uses marital funds to pay for the expenses of an affair. The court may either assign all debts associated with the adulterous conduct to that spouse or award the other spouse more assets in the divorce. Another exception would be one spouse hiding significant credit card or gambling debts from the other spouse.
Equitable Distribution of Debt
The court typically splits debt fairly equally between spouses in a divorce, but certain circumstances may convince the court to award more or less debt to one spouse over the other. The most common reason for a more unequal split in marital debt is when one spouse has the capacity to pay off the debts more than the other spouse. A common example of this is when one spouse was the income earner while the other stayed at home. Another example is if one spouse is currently paying medical expenses for a health issue or facing other issues that are causing financial distress. The exceptions to the marital debt rules can also lead to an unequal splitting of the marital debt in a Florida divorce case.
Let Us Help You Today
Because of the court’s discretion to award unequal amounts of debt to either spouse in a divorce, it is critical that you have an experienced divorce attorney by your side protecting your interests. Call the office or contact us today at the law office of Blair H. Chan, III now to schedule an initial consultation of your Florida divorce today.