How is Debt Divided in Divorce?

Spouses figuring out divorce debt

The financial side of the divorce process can be daunting. Married couples accumulate not just shared assets but also shared debt. Both assets and debts must be fairly split in a divorce. If you’re beginning the divorce process, you may be wondering how debt is split between divorced couples. Need help settling your divorce? Contact a Morton Divorce Lawyer for trusted legal counseling today!


Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning debt is split fairly but not necessarily 50/50 between spouses. Any debt incurred before the spouses were married is considered personal debt and therefore the person who made the purchases is responsible for those debts. Examples of possible joint debt between spouses can be a mortgage or a joint credit card account. In the divorce process, the judge will decide how joint debt is split between spouses by considering various factors and determining what is fair. The spouses may not receive identical values. Normally, the division of debt happens after the division of property or other assets.


When considering debt in a divorce, there’s a wide variety of circumstances that may alter the split decision. Here are some of the most common determining factors:

  • Each spouse’s financial resources and personal assets
  • The length of the marriage
  • The amount of child support and spousal support
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • Income or property brought into the marriage
  • Written agreements made either before or during the marriage
  • Tax consequences
  • Any contributions made that altered the value of the marital property
  • Present value of property

The judge will have to weigh all factors before making a decision on the debt split.


If your spouse has accumulated debt on joint credit accounts, you might worry about how that could affect your credit score. Both joint accounts you had with your spouse and any accounts you cosigned for your spouse will appear on your credit reports. If you have a financially inept spouse, your credit score will suffer the consequences. The best solution is to pay off existing joint accounts with your spouse and close them before the divorce process is finalized, if possible. Many divorcing spouses choose to liquidate their assets (such as selling property) to pay off jointly held debts.

Divorce can be tricky to handle alone. If you are going through a divorce or considering divorce, you’ll want a highly experienced divorce attorney on your side to guide you through the legal process. Butler, Giruado & Meister, P.C. are here to fight for you! Contact us today for quality legal advice from one of our compassionate lawyers.

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