Delaware County Marital Debt Division Lawyer
Division of Marital Debt in a Delaware County Divorce
Divorce can be a stressful, emotionally traumatic experience for all parties involved. When you are dealing with a large amount of debt accumulated during the marriage, it only exacerbates the practical and emotional difficulties. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state for division of marital property (assets and debts) and there is no guaranteed equal split. It is in your best interests to hire an experienced Delaware County divorce attorney to represent you.
What Is Marital Debt?
All debt accumulated by a couple during the course of a marriage is marital debt. Both spouses are responsible for marital debt, even if only one spouse incurred the debt during the marriage. Common examples of marital debt include mortgages, car loans, and credit card balances. Debts accrued before the date of the marriage or after the spouses separate is usually classified as separate or non-marital debt.
How Is Marital Debt Divided in Delaware County?
Pennsylvania uses an equitable distribution principle to govern the allocation of marital assets and debts between the spouses in a divorce. This means that courts strive to achieve fair, but not necessarily equal, allocation of property based on various factors and guidelines. Equitable distribution states divide marital property based on what is considered fair under the circumstances, whereas community property states try to come as close as possible to a 50/50 split between the spouses.
What Factors Are Considered in Marital Debt Division?
Family court judges in Delaware County consider a number of factors in dividing marital debt, including:
- Age and health of each spouse
- Duration of the marriage
- Established standard of living
- Child custody
- Potential earnings and income sources of each spouse
- Financial contributions of one spouse to the other during the marriage
- Contributions of either spouse as a homemaker
- Tax consequences of debt and asset distribution
What Are the Different Ways Marital Debt Can Be Divided?
Guided by a principle of equitable distribution, Pennsylvania family courts aim to distribute marital property in a way that is fair to both parties. Debts may be divided in different ways, for example allocated in full to one party, divided equally between the parties, or divided proportionately between the parties, with one spouse paying a larger portion than the other.
A party may be assigned more of the marital debt but also more of the marital assets to offset the debt. Debts can also offset assets for purposes of property division. For example, if a marital bank account with a balance of $10,000 is allocated to one party, who uses that money to pay off $10,000 in marital credit card debt, that bank account should not count as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution. Each case is different, and division of marital debt in a Delaware County divorce can depend on the particular circumstances.
Are There Exceptions to Marital Debt Division?
Generally, all debt accumulated during the marriage by either spouse is considered marital debt. If one spouse purchased a car and the title was in his or her name only, the other spouse would still be responsible for the debt and car loan balance would be subject to equitable distribution. However, if your spouse acquired a debt during the marriage and you do not want to be responsible for it, you may ask the creditor to take your name off the account before the distribution process is begun by the court. If you have written proof that the creditor has removed you from the account, you may not be liable.
Debt division can be a complicated aspect of divorce. Contact the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. at (866) 290-9292 for sound legal guidance and dedicated representation.