Dividing Property and Debt in a Divorce

Date Posted:December 5, 2014 | Categories:Divorce and Dissolution

Debt in a Divorce Ohio

Property division could turn an otherwise amicable divorce into a contentious fight for marital assets.  Likewise, the allocation of debt could cause additional stress and could lead to additional strain on the relationship.  During these difficult times, it is important to find the balance when seeking a settlement with your spouse, lest the courts become involved and divide all property and debts.  Amicable division or property and debts is always best, because when the court gets involved everything is generally split 50/50, which may not be fair to each spouse.  Finding the right attorney to help is crucial so you can come to a fair division or property and debt in divorce. 

First, the division of marital property is complex.  Marital property is the property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage.  This includes but is not limited to: marital home, vacation property purchased with joint funds, and artwork.  During the divorce process, it is important to accurately record the value of the property so each spouse receives a fair portion of the marital property.  You will need to make a note of all property that each person brought with them into the marriage, generally known as individual property.  This can includes cars, artwork, and even small business assets.  Understanding the fine line that separates marital and individual property is very important, which is why hiring a property division lawyer is key.  When you work with a professional to review all financial records and property records, you have a better chance of receiving a fair division of assets. 

Not only must there be an accurate accounting of the marital property, but there also must be an accounting of the debt accrued by both spouses.  Debts accrued during the marriage include, but are not limited to: mortgage payments, joint credit card debt, and medical expenses.  Courts have the authority to divide the debts of a marriage as they would property of a marriage.  As such, knowing the true nature and value of the debt is important.  The court will examine these debts and divide the debt equitably, as they see fit.  If you and your spouse are considering divorce and hope to come to your own settlement terms, it is important to first have an attorney review your debts as well as your property so there is a fair division.  By keeping the matter out of court and settling the matter with the help of attorneys, you can divide the property in a way that may be more beneficial to you.

One of the most common financial questions that divorcing spouses ask about property and debt division is closely tied to keeping the marital property after divorce.  So what happens if you keep the house, and you still owe the bank money?   If there are mortgage payments that are still to be made on the property, the spouse who retains the home is responsible for the debt associated with the property.  In most cases, the spouse remaining in the marital home will “buy out” the departing spouse and will then be responsible for all debts and tax benefits that follow the property.  Additionally, when spouses have car loans or other vehicle loans the debt follows the property and the spouse who retains the property pays the debt. 

Medical debt is considered a marital asset, so any medical expenses accrued before the date of the separation are considered divisible debt in the divorce.  In many states medical debt is split 50/50 between both spouses, unless only one spouse is employed.  If both spouses are working courts will generally divide the debt equitably. Even if your significant other promises to pay the medical debt before you sign a divorce decree, you will need to get the statement in writing.  Any promise to pay debts will not be enforceable without the correct wording on the divorce decree.  Division of marital debt can be difficult, so finding the right property division lawyer in Columbus, Ohio can help review your specific situation and advise the best course of action. 

Not all debt is created equal, so not all debt is split as medical expenses or joint credit card bills.  Unlike the debt incurred to further the marriage, certain debts which one spouse incurs with know knowledge of the other spouse is not considered marital debt.  Examples of such debt include: huge credit cards bills in one spouse’s name, gambling debt, or debt incurred purchasing an additional home for a friend or lover.  If brought before the court, the spouse who racked up the debt without the consent of his or her significant other will be forced to pay for the debt.  Finding the right attorney is crucial, as a trained property division lawyer can advocate for your rights and make sure the only debts divided in the divorce are marital debts.

If you are considering divorce, it is important to think about the financial ramifications of dividing property and debt.  As a property division lawyer, Columbus native Edward F. Whipps can advise you on the best course of action and the most beneficial division of assets for your future needs. Work with a team of experts to research and properly analyze marital property and debt to discover the right settlement solution for you.  Every situation is different, which is why hiring a professional with years of experience to help you transition to the next chapter in your life is so crucial.  Contact the property division attorneys at Edward F. Whipps & Associates for a free consultation.  To arrange a mutually convenient time for your initial consultation, contact the Columbus office at (614) 461-6006 or the Dublin office at (614) 461-6007.