Dealing with debt in a divorce

On Behalf of | Oct 26, 2022 | Property Division

One of your primary concerns can be dividing your property if you are divorcing. Understandably, people typically want to know what they will keep and what their financial resources will look like when the divorce is final.

However, your debts and liabilities will also affect your situation.

Do we divide debt?

Just like you would do with the property you accumulated during your marriage, you can generally expect to divide any debt you took on while you were married, regardless of whose name is on it. Under Washington State laws, this is community debt, and the responsibility of paying them falls on both spouses.

That said, there are exceptions to this rule. In some cases, debt can stay with one person if the debt in question was not for the benefit of the “community” or the married couple.

Further, courts may not divide a specific liability if either of you can prove it is separate because one of you took it on before the marriage.

What if my ex doesn’t pay their debt?

While you may have no interest in your ex’s financial habits or behaviors once you are no longer married, their handling of their debt can still affect you.

If they don’t pay their debt, the party collecting the debt could come after you. If this happens, you could file a lawsuit against your ex seeking damages.

Balancing the scales

The law in this state directs courts to divide property and liabilities in a just and equitable manner. In many cases, this means dividing everything equally between spouses. In other words, both parties will have the same financial resources and obligations.

However, an equal division is not always fair or appropriate. Under these circumstances, you can work with your attorneys to negotiate or make your case in court to seek more assets or fewer debt obligations.

The goal of dividing property and debt in divorce is to make it possible for both spouses to be on relatively equal footing afterward. How you reach this arrangement and what it looks like will depend on your specific case and financial resources.