Am I Going to Have to Pay My Spouse’s Debts After we Get Divorced? (Pt 1)

Paying off debt is no fun. Paying off someone else’s debt is the worst!

When people get divorced, the issue of money is usually one of the first things to come up. Questions like, “Will I get to keep my money?” and “Am I going to have to share my retirement account?” are things we hear often. But one that comes up almost every time has to do with the issue of debt. “Am I going to have to pay my spouse’s debts after we get divorced?” is a big one. And it’s entirely legitimate. After all, paying off debt isn’t fun. But paying off debt that someone else accrued is the absolute pits! So let’s take a closer look at this question…

The law doesn’t say you have to pay your spouse’s debts after divorce.

You’ll be glad to know that Michigan family law doesn’t say that all divorcing spouses are legally responsible for their exes’ debts after the divorce is final. In fact, unlike marital property, the law doesn’t assume that a debt is ‘marital’ just because it was incurred during the marriage. Also, the court recognizes that some debts incurred during a marriage are the responsibility of one one spouse. Therefore when that couple gets divorced, the spouse who incurred the debt is usually expected to be responsible for it!

WHO is less important, more important are WHY and WHEN

This is important – while who incurred the debt does matter (if you ran up $10,000 in gambling charges the court won’t require that your spouse assume the burden of paying that off!), it isn’t the only factor in the equation. Why and when matter too. For example, if one spouse used a credit card that was in their own name to pay for thousands in college costs on behalf of their spouse, the debt pay be on their card and in their name, but as far as the court is concerned, that debt was incurred by the spouse who was attending college. So as you see. The why and the when are important as well.

Most marital debts are shared, but not all.

As we just explained, Michigan law doesn’t assume that a debt is marital just because it was incurred during the marriage (although that’s often the presumption!) . In order for a debt to count as a marital debt, it should have been incurred during the marriage, before the date of separation (this is important, assuming you get separated before you get divorced.) So let’s say the debt we’re discussing her is a credit card debt – if the debt was accrued while you were married, (even if your spouse was the one spending more on the card than you!) if the credit card is in both of your names you could have a hard time proving that you weren’t the one hemorrhaging money.

Proper asset and debt division needs a good attorney!

Fighting about who gets what (and who gets stuck with what debts) is incredibly stressful. When your spouse is angry and spiteful, or won’t work with you on creating a fair division of your marital assets and debts, the process becomes even more painful! That’s where we come in. If you choose to hire a skilled family law attorney with lots of experience to handle your asset division, you can rest assured that your future is in good hands. So if you need help with any aspect of your divorce, call 866 766 5245 today and talk to someone who can help!