Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt Esq.

Dividing Debt in a Divorce

By JWGLAWYER on April 01, 2019

Calculating assets and debtsThe end of a marriage can be stressful and difficult, which is why it’s important to have an experienced family law and divorce attorney on your side. In addition to offering support as you divide property and seek custody of children, your lawyer will do their best to keep the proceedings as professional as possible, avoiding drama through smart legal advocacy.

The East Brunswick, NJ at the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt would like to focus on the division of debt in a divorce. The debts accrued during a marriage have to be considered along with assets, ensuring a fair split between spouses.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

When dividing property in a divorce, it is first important to distinguish between separate property and community property.

  • Separate property refers to the assets and debts a person has accumulated before the marriage and after divorce proceedings have been initiated.
  • Communal property refers to assets and debts a couple accumulates in the course of their marriage.

Generally speaking, all separate property remains the sole possession of the individual spouse; all community property/marital property is divided equally between spouses.

Common Debts Divided in a Marriage

The most common types of debts that married couples accrue together include:

  • Credit card debt
  • Mortgage debt
  • Auto loan debt
  • Medical debt

Other kinds of debt may also be accumulated, though the above are most often disputed during divorce cases.

Determining If the Debt Is Community or Separate

When dividing property, determining if property is separate or not is the first important consideration. Again, based on the distinctions above, separate property is what someone possesses before marriage and after a divorce has been initiated.

However, complications arise when a spouse becomes a partner in an existing business, or when real estate is used together or as a rental property. The same goes for when a spouse has existing credit card debt before marriage and accumulates more debt during the marriage.

Disputes Over Debt Responsibility

As disputes arise over the type of debt a couple has and/or how it should be split, an ex-spouse may attempt to avoid all debt responsibility. It’s important for an attorney to note an individual’s own debt, when additional debt was accumulated during a marriage, and determine the most fair and equitable manner of classification. Just because a divorce is acrimonious doesn’t mean a person can avoid their financial responsibilities with regard to assets and debts.

Selling a House to Settle Mortgage Debt

To settle mortgage debt, many divorced couples decide to sell their marital house and split the money. This is a good option to consider if the debt is considerable, even if keeping the house has its advantages. Like disputes over debt responsibility, there are often issues with dividing the amount earned from the sale of the home. Tax issues will also need to be considered if the cost of the home was considerable.

Using Debt to Offset Assets

Sometimes when dividing assets and debts in a marriage, a spouse may allow their ex to take certain assets if they also agree to take certain debts as well. This can help offset the property disparities following a divorce and ensure even distribution of community property.

How a Family Law Attorney Can Help

As you can see, there are many aspects of property division that have to be considered in a divorce. A skilled family law attorney can make sure your side is heard, and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

When emotions run high, your attorney can restore order and a professional approach to the divorce, noting the letter of the law and the numbers on the ledger as a guide for dividing assets and debts.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt

For more information about your legal rights and options in a divorce, be sure to contact an experienced family law attorney. We at the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Goldblatt can answer all of your questions and offer our expert insight. Your can reach our office in Freehold by phone at (732) 780-9333, and our offices in East Brunswick and Wall at (732) 238-8700.

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