How is Marital Debt Decided in GA?

Divorce is not just about divvying your assets. When the time comes for spouses to split up and go their separate ways, they will also have to split up the debt they incurred during their marriage. Having debt may seem fine when you’re basking in wedded bliss. After all, the vast majority of American couples have debt.

But when a marriage falls apart, which spouse is responsible for paying the marital debt? Unfortunately, the old saying “What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” holds true for marital debt.

Marital Debt vs. Separate Debt

In states such as Georgia that follow the equitable division rule, both spouses will be responsible for paying the debt that either spouse accrued during their marriage. This is known as marital debt. Married couples can also have separate debts, which are debts either spouse incurred before the marriage. The responsibility for these debts would fall on the spouse that incurred them initially.

This means that you’ll only get your share of any debt your spouse incurred after you get married. For example, if your spouse married you and they had $35,000 in student loans, they will be solely responsible for that debt. But if you went back to school while you were married and incurred $30,000 in student loans, your spouse will most likely receive part of that debt.

Dividing Marital Debt in Georgia

When the equitable division rule is applied for distributing marital debt, both spouses must divide the debts fairly or equitably. The distribution does not necessarily have to be an even 50/50 split. If you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement about how your marital debt will be divided during your divorce, the court will decide the distribution using the following factors:

  • Which spouse incurred which debt
  • When either spouse incurred the debt
  • The contribution of either spouse to the debt
  • The reason for incurring the debt

Since marital debt doesn’t have to be distributed equally, the court may allocate more debt to one spouse if it was incurred for non-marital purposes or activities. For example, a spouse’s business-related travel expenses that are reimbursable through an employer or debt that a spouse racked up when they were having an extra-marital affair.

Also, the court may choose to allocate more of the debt to a spouse with a higher income since the other spouse may not have the financial means to take on more debt. This debt distribution arrangement is common in cases where one of the spouses earns significantly more income than the other spouse or if one of the spouses is not working.

In other cases, the court may decide to allocate more of the debt to the spouse ordered to pay alimony instead of actually giving spousal support to the recipient spouse.

Talk to an Experienced Cumming, GA, Divorce Lawyer Today

If you need sound legal advice about dividing marital debt in a divorce, do not hesitate to contact the Banks, Stubbs & McFarland LLP law firm. You can arrange a free evaluation of your case by calling 770-887-1209 or sending an online message.