Debts may leave you vulnerable after divorce

Dividing marital property can elicit intense emotions. Both spouses might feel particularly attached to certain assets, like the family home or certain collections. But while a couple might battle over who gets these assets in the divorce, there are some that neither may want — debt. It would most likely be difficult to find a married couple in Illinois without any marital debt, so this is a problem that many are likely to encounter.

Before deciding how to divide debt, a couple must first determine if a debt is considered marital. Debts acquired during the course of a marriage are almost always considered marital property, which must be divided. A student loan taken out in one person’s name but during the marriage would be a marital debt, whereas one taken out before marriage would be personal.

One might assume that if a marital debt is in only one person’s name, then he or she will automatically be responsible for paying it off. This is not always the case. A spouse who earns significantly more than the other could get that debt during property division. Another exception is if a debt with just one spouse’s name  — such as a credit card or personal loan — was used for marital expenses.

While certain debts can help build equity and wealth in the long term, too much of the wrong kind can make one’s financial situation strained. Adults in Illinois who are going through divorce should prioritize identifying debts to which he or she may be vulnerable. This means that he or she must have a thorough understanding of both current and future financial needs, and how decisions during divorce may affect those needs.

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