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Family Law Blog

What Types of Debts are Divided in a Divorce?

Published: Aug 18, 2017 in Divorce

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, then it is time to learn more about how you can – or a judge will – divide your property. Whether you have been married for a short time or 30 years, you and your spouse probably have a good amount of stuff. You may have a house, which is full of furniture and personal items, a couple of cars, retirement savings, some investments, insurance policies, and more. When you really start to think about it, there is a lot to argue over. It may be obvious who should take some of the more personal items and you may even agree on how to handle the family home. However, when it comes to other debts, you may not see eye-to-eye.

To learn more about how to handle debt division during a divorce, contact a Pittsburgh divorce lawyer with Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100. We will review your marital finances and estate, and then help you negotiate a fair settlement or seek an appropriate judgment in court.

Determining the Marital Estate

Before any assets or debts can be divided, both need to be identified and then characterized as either marital or individual/non-marital property. The marital estate is made up of assets and debts that were acquired during the marriage or were originally independent and then converted in some way to shared property during the marriage. Non-marital property includes assets or debts acquired by either you or your spouse before the marriage or after the date of your separation. It also includes gifts you received or property you each inherited during the marriage.

Once all of your debts are characterized as either marital or non-marital, the marital debts can be divided. The individual debts remain your or your spouse’s personal responsibilities.

Types of Debts Divided in a Divorce

You and your spouse may have accrued a broad range of debts during your marriage. Some of the most common debts that need to be addressed during a divorce include:

  • Mortgages on real estate
  • Auto loans
  • Other personal loans
  • Credit card debt
  • Business loans
  • Private student loans
  • Government student loans

Whether these types of debts are part of the marital estate or one of your individual responsibilities will depend on your specific circumstances. You and your spouse may agree on what is marital and non-marital property, or you may disagree and need to ask the judge to make a decision. For example, student loan debt acquired during the marriage is often contentious. The student loan may have been for one person’s degree. However, it might also have supported the family. A judge may have to weigh a number of factors to determine if student loans are part of the marital estate.

Dividing Debts That Are Part of the Marital Estate

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution estate, which means judges will determine a fair distribution, including both the assets and debts. An equitable distribution is not the same as a 50/50 split. You may end up responsible for 50 percent of the debt; however, you also may end up responsible for more or less than half of the debts depending on the length of the marriage, your respective incomes, why and how the debts were amassed, and several other factors.

If you and your spouse take equal responsibility for the accumulation of debt, you may agree to each pay half. Conversely, if you and your spouse disagree on who is responsible for the debt, you may need to seek a judge’s opinion. Contact our experienced property division lawyers today if you believe your spouse should be responsible for a greater amount of debt due to their actions during the marriage or larger income.

Contact a Pittsburgh Divorce Lawyer Today

If you are headed for a divorce and you and your spouse are having issues regarding your property, call an attorney with Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC right away. We can help you negotiate a fair property settlement with your spouse, enabling each of you to determine the fair responsibility for the debt. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, we will represent your interests in front of the judge.

Contact us online or call (412) 471-5100 to schedule a free consultation.