Dealing With Debts From Your Marriage During Your Divorce
Most people acquire items they want or need in life through a mix of cash and credit. During your marriage, you may have financed homes, cars, furniture, and other items over the years. During your divorce, you will need to work out agreements on how to divide this property between you and your spouse. You also need to determine who is responsible for paying any debts.
Marital Debts In Florida Divorce Proceedings
Marital debts in Fort Lauderdale divorce proceedings are handled in much the same way as property and assets. Under the Florida Statutes, they should be divided between you and your spouse on an equitable basis, depending on the circumstances in your particular case. Rather than splitting debts down the middle, a judge will consider the various factors involved:
- Each party’s income, their earning potential, and ability to pay;
- Each one’s actions during the marriage that may have contributed to either accumulating or paying off debts;
- Whether one of the spouses will be taking possession of property connected with the debt;
- Any marital misconduct that may have occurred during the marriage, which may make one of the parties liable for a larger share.
When dealing with debt during your divorce, keeping an open mind and being willing to negotiate can provide enormous benefits. You may be able to trade off the rights to certain items or assets in exchange for a reduced share of debts.
Protecting Your Best Interests When Dealing With Marital Debt
If you are currently experiencing marital problems that could eventually land you in divorce court, one of your top priorities should be making an inventory of your marital debts and getting them paid off. If you have a major amount of outstanding amounts owed and are struggling to pay, filing a joint bankruptcy may be something to pursue prior to filing for divorce.
One of the most important issues when dealing with marital debts is understanding your obligations to lenders. A 2019 U.S. News & World Report article on the topic urges you to remember that while you can divorce your spouse, there is no divorcing your creditors. If you have outstanding balances on joint accounts that your spouse agrees to pay and then fails to do so, you can still be held liable for the amount owed. In addition to subjecting you to credit collection efforts and potential legal actions, this will adversely affect your credit rating. To protect yourself, consider these steps:
- Close any joint accounts and those in which you are listed as an authorized user;
- Use individual debt consolidation loans to pay off past due balances owed;
- Make sure any remaining debts are listed on financial affidavits;
- Open a credit card or get a small loan to reestablish your individual credit.
Let Us Help You Today
To get trusted legal guidance and answers to additional questions about marital debts, reach out to Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney Vanessa L. Prieto. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.