How are marital debts divided in Florida?
There are a lot of financial implications tied to your divorce. Although Florida’s equitable division laws mean that you should get your fair share of marital assets, the outcome of your property division will depend on a number of factors. It’s important to note that property division in divorce doesn’t mean just splitting up assets. It can also mean dividing debts.
Generally speaking, Florida law treats debt in the same fashion as assets during the divorce process. This means that marital debts must be divided in a fair fashion, with some courts trying to split marital debts evenly among the parties. However, before you get to the point of dividing those debts, you’ll want to carefully consider which debts are actually marital in nature.
What is marital debt?
This can be a difficult assessment to make. However, most debts acquired during the marriage will be deemed marital in nature unless you can sufficiently show that you didn’t benefit from the debt and the debt was not incurred to purchase items that were shared by the family. These marital debts usually include:
- Credit card debt
- Car loans
- Business loans
- Personal loans
- Student loans
- Lines of equity
- Unpaid medical expenses
The analysis for each of these debts can be tricky. For example, showing that you didn’t derive a direct benefit from your spouse’s student loans may not be enough for you to escape taking on some of that debt post-divorce.
What about premarital and nonmarital debt?
If your spouse owned debt before entering into the marriage, then he or she will likely keep that debt post-divorce. This is known as premarital debt. This debt often includes credit card and student loan debt.
But even some debts that are acquired during marriage may be removed from the property division process. This primarily includes debts that are taken out in just one spouse’s name. The difficulty here is showing that only your spouse derived a benefit from that debt.
Challenges with debt division
Although figuring out how to divide marital debt in a fair fashion can be difficult enough, there are also risks involved in the process. For example, if your name remains on a debt account but that debt is given to your spouse once the divorce is finalized, then his or her failure to make payments on time could affect your credit score and lead to collection actions taken against you.
Therefore, you need to be prepared to not only properly argue for appropriate division of marital debt, but you should also be ready to structure that division in a way that ensures that you’re protected from that debt once it’s out of your hands.
Competently navigate your property division issues
Dealing with the division of marital property and debt can be enormously stressful. Some people are so overwhelmed by the process that they just try to finalize it as quickly as possible. But don’t let your desire to conclude the matter rush you into unfavorable results. This can leave you at a financial disadvantage for a long time to come.