person looking at debt

What Happens to Debt During a Divorce?

When you and your spouse got married, you likely combined your finances. This includes your income, savings, and even your debt. And with the average American adult carrying more than $90,400 in debt, it’s normal to wonder what will happen to your shared debt during your divorce. Though every situation is unique, your Columbia divorce attorney can help you with the separation of your assets and your debt during your divorce, but you still need to understand what will happen to your debt before you’re fully separated. Here’s what you need to know.

person looking at debt

Missouri Courts Employ Equitable Distribution

When reviewing your finances, the court will distribute your assets and your debts equitably. This is the process for most divorce cases throughout Missouri and allows the judge overseeing your case to distribute your debts in a way that’s fair to both parties. This means the judge will consider your income, your ongoing expenses, and other financial factors when deciding who is responsible for each portion of the debt and how much you’ll be expected to repay.

You’re Free to Reach an Agreement

Though the court can make a decision regarding the distribution of your property and your debts for you, you and your spouse are free to make a decision on your own. There are benefits to this. You and your spouse can determine who is responsible for each debt and how much of your marital (joint) debts each of you should take on. For example, if you and your spouse want to split your debt equally, you’re free to do so even if one of you earns a significantly larger income. Or your spouse who earns significantly more each month may agree to take on a larger portion of the debt than the court would deem fair and appropriate. 

It all comes down to what works best for you and your spouse. If you’re in agreement on most terms, coming to an agreement about how to handle your debt will likely work better for both of your finances than letting the court make a decision for you.

Individual Debts Will Remain Yours

Not all debts will be divided during a divorce. If you took on a personal loan, car loan, or racked up credit card debt before you got married, those debts will be yours to repay on your own. Your spouse will not be held responsible for any portion of the payments since you took them on before you were married. But if you took out those loans or started accruing credit card debt during your marriage, your spouse will share responsibility for their repayment based on the agreements you reach or the decision the court makes.

Dealing With Debt During a Divorce Doesn’t Have to Be Stressful

The easiest way to deal with the distribution of debt during a divorce is to come to an agreement with your spouse prior to finalizing the divorce. But if you can’t or aren’t willing to discuss those concerns with your spouse, the court will make a decision for you.
Though any divorce can be stressful, navigating a divorce with a lot of debt to your name can be even harder. The best thing you can do is work with an experienced Columbia divorce attorney. Contact Columbia Family Law Group today to schedule a free consultation.