Debts must be divided equally alike assets in divorce
Like assets in a marriage in Georgia debts are also to be divided in equity. This means that the court will do what is considered fair when considering the division of debt. Many clients come to my office and assume that they do not have to pay any debts from the marriage as all of the credit cards were in the other spouses name and they never really used them. In equity the relevant question is did you benefit from the expense, and this line is very blurry.
Courts do not find debt division productive
The courts rarely will take the time and nor is it a productive argument to take years of debt statements and itemize every single purchase arguing who bought this item and who used that item. Yes, you did not agree with the ride on lawn mower for your quarter acre lawn, but it was used for the maintenance of the home. Yes the other spouse likes to eat out all the time but can you remember when you were with them and did you eat the leftovers they brought home. Because of arguments such as this the courts tend to not be overly analytical with debt and usually split it in equal proportions. However, I have had many cases in which the court is willing to decrease and increase these proportions.
Debt Division During Divorce
Often the accumulation of debt is directly related to one spouses benefit and the other spouse clearly received no benefit from the assumption of this debt. Medical debt and student loans are usually involved with this debt and the spouse accumulating this debt will usually be responsible for these debts. Home improvement debt will usually be left with the spouse enjoying the equity in the home and if the equity in the home is to be split this debt will be split. Often one spouse has a gambling or other problem and there are glaring and obvious charges on cards dealing with these issues of alcohol, sexual activity or gambling and these will be the responsibility of the charging spouse.
Arguments surrounding debts during divorce
Some arguments regarding debt are more subtle and involve the actual financial relationship of the parties. Just as with assets the court will determine the actual contribution of the spouse’s in the accumulation of the debt and if you have completely separate finances, separate accounts and the other spouse has no access to these cards you have a stronger argument, but once again, you will need to show that you never benefitted from this debt.
As always, seek legal counsel, debt like equity division can be very subtle and it is unsafe to assume that because your name is not on the debt that you will have no responsibility.770-490-0921