How debts are factored into property division during divorce


One of the most important issues in a Virginia divorce is the division of marital property and debts. Property division is a central aspect of any divorce proceeding. Many couples who are in the process of divorcing do not realize that during the divorce process, the couple's joint marital debts are also subject to division, just like the couple's marital assets.

One of the most common forms of debt that married couples have is credit card debt. The courts will review the couple's credit card debt and assign each spouse responsibility for paying a share of that debt, as part of the property division process. The attorneys for each spouse might present evidence to prove whether the credit card was from a joint banking account or from an individual account. But even in cases where the credit card debt is linked to only one spouse's account, the debt might still be subject to equitable diviision if the debt was created during the marriage.

Mortgages are also a significant portion of many Virginia couple's debt and they often represent by far the largest portion of the couple's debt. Dividing such mortgages often poses a challenge in divorce. Responsibility for paying the mortgage may be awarded to the higher-earning spouse or the spouse with primary custody of the child. One party may also be ordered to buy out the other spouse's equity. In many cases it makes more sense to sell the house, pay off the remaining balance of the mortgage, and divide any remaining proceeds.

Property division, including debt division, is often hotly contested in a divorce. Having an experienced family law attorney on one's side can greatly increase the odds of getting a fair and just result.

Source: Time Magazine, "What happens to my debt if I get a divorce?" Leslie Tayne, June 23, 2015

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