Financial issues, including debts, are a major cause of divorce. Common examples of financial problems that lead to divorce include:
- Job loss
- Debt accumulation
- One spouse’s lack of financial contribution to the household
And although people often pursue divorce to solve their financial problems, they sometimes forget that they may have ongoing financial obligations after the divorce, particularly if the debt was accumulated during the marriage. As is discussed below, a spouse’s obligation to pay off debt after divorce is primarily dependent upon how that debt is classified. If you are seeking a divorce in Georgia and are concerned about debt, please review the information below, and contact a Georgia divorce lawyer as soon as possible for assistance.
Marital vs. separate debts
The first thing to determine when analyzing a debt is whether it is marital or separate property. The easiest way to do this is to look to when the debt was incurred. Even if only one spouse’s name is associated with debt, it is possible that both spouses will have an obligation to pay it if it was acquired during the marriage. However, debts that either spouse owed prior to marriage usually remain separate.
In making the determination of who is liable for a debt, courts will also examine the circumstances under which the debt was accrued. If a spouse can prove that his or her husband or wife failed to disclose important financial information concerning the debt, the court may place liability with the spouse who accrued the debt.
In the case of student loans accumulated during the marriage, responsibility for the debt may fall on both spouses if the spouse who took out the loans is able to convince the court that he or she enrolled in school to improve the financial circumstances of the family. If the court agrees with this claim, it will consider the student loans accrued during the marriage as marital debt that both spouses must repay. However, courts must divide property and debt equitably, meaning that additional circumstances can affect how much each spouse is required to pay. Given the complicated nature of debt division, it is advisable to obtain the assistance of a divorce attorney prior to initiating the divorce process.
Contact a Lithonia divorce attorney today
If you want a divorce, you need an experienced Georgia divorce lawyer on your side. At the law office of E.N. Banks-Ware, we work to help our clients achieve positive outcomes in their divorce proceedings. Equally adept at managing highly contested divorces or negotiating settlements, our primary concern is protecting your interests and the well-being of your family. In addition, when a satisfactory settlement cannot be reached, we are fully prepared to represent you in court. Therefore, if you are considering a divorce in Lithonia County or elsewhere in Georgia, please contact us today for a free consultation.