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What Happens to Debt in a Florida Divorce?

Every marital split has unique aspects that you can address through negotiation or leave to a judge to decide if your divorce goes to trial. Generally, however, the state laws of property distribution applying to divorcing parties in Florida also apply to the distribution of any outstanding financial obligations.

The courts address financial obligations in conjunction with the equitable distribution of assets. In their Divorce in Florida Pamphlet, the Florida Bar explains that the process begins by differentiating between marital and non-marital debt. In most cases, debt brought into the marriage represents non-marital debt that returns to the original party as part of the divorce settlement. On the other hand, the courts divide marital obligations using guidelines designed to help ensure each party receives equitable treatment based on the overall property distribution settlement. For example, if one party acquires full possession of the family home as part of the settlement, he or she may also receive full financial responsibility for the remaining mortgage payments.

Issues can become more complex when couples co-mingle marital and non-marital obligations. For example, when one party brings student loans into the marriage, the couple may use a lower-interest home equity loan to pay off the student debt.

While a judge may assign equal responsibilities to both parties for co-mingled debt in a contested divorce, a family lawyer can help clients by providing the court with substantial proof of debt ownership within a comingled loan. Or, an attorney can guide clients to an equitable agreement through negotiation in an uncontested divorce.

Even people dedicated to cooperation when they go into a negotiated divorce settlement need experienced legal support to help ensure they acquire the property they need to move forward — without an unfair amount of debt from the marriage. The Orlando-based Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A. puts extensive knowledge of complex marital financial situations to work, helping clients obtain the best possible results in a divorce settlement.

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