Who Will Be Responsible for Debt in My Florida Divorce?
If you and your spouse accumulated debt during the marriage, you may wonder who will be responsible for the debt in your divorce. Yes, determining who is responsible for marital debt is one of the most complicated issues in a divorce.
Under the Florida Statutes Section 61.075, all marital assets and liabilities are subject to “equitable distribution.” It means that if spouses incurred debt during the marriage, joint debt would be split between the spouse in a fair and equitable manner. However, fair and equitable does not necessarily mean equally.
Types of Debt in a Divorce
When it comes to determining who will be responsible for the joint debt in a divorce, it is critical to categorize debt as:
- Premarital debt
- Non-marital debt
- Marital or joint debt
Any debt that one spouse had before the marriage is classified as “premarital debt.” Premarital debt is any debt a spouse incurred only in their name before getting married.
Debt can be considered “non-marital” even when it was incurred during the marriage. However, debt is classified as “non-marital” when it was incurred in the name of one spouse and was not paid with marital funds.
Any debt is considered marital when it was incurred during the marriage, in both spouse’s names, or it was used to purchase items that benefited both spouses. Marital debt includes mortgages, joint credit cards, car loans, and other debts acquired during the marriage.
Both premarital and non-marital debt is considered separate debt and are not split between the spouses in a divorce. Only one spouse will be responsible for debts classified as premarital or non-marital. The process of dividing marital debts follows the laws of equitable distribution in Florida.
What About Student Loan Debt?
As of February 2020, there were over 45 million borrowers who owed about $1.6 trillion in student loan debt in the United States. In some cases, student loan debt can be even more significant than a married couple’s mortgage. But is student loan debt split between spouses in a divorce?
Generally, student loan debt is considered “marital debt” and is split between the spouses if it was incurred during the marriage. However, if one spouse incurred student loan debt before getting married, it is considered separate property and remains so after the divorce.
However, if student loan debt was incurred during the marriage, but a non-borrowing spouse did not receive any benefit from the borrowing spouse’s education, the non-borrowing spouse may not be responsible for that debt.
Getting divorced is never easy, but even more so when your divorce case involves significant marital debt. It is important to seek help from an experienced divorce lawyer to determine who should be responsible for the debt in your case and ensure that your rights and assets are protected when negotiating a property settlement.