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How Are Debts Divided in a Divorce?

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process, especially when couples disagree about certain aspects of their divorce. A common issue that couples disagree upon in court is how their debts should be divided. For Illinois divorces, specific guidelines in the division of debt help couples take responsibility for debts owed. At Ward Family Law, LLC. We’re here to help couples divorcing in Illinois know understand the law and fight for a fair distribution of debt. 

What Are Examples of Possible Debts Owed?

Spouses may have various debts both together and separately. Some of these debts may include credit cards, mortgages, liens, car payments, medical bills, and educational expenses such as student loans. Debt can be found in multiple areas of a person’s life, and the court will determine which spouse is responsible for paying off certain debts and how they should go about doing so. 

How Does Illinois Divide Debt Between Spouses?

Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court will try to divide debt as fairly as possible between spouses. This doesn’t necessarily mean the debt will be divided equally. If both spouses agree on how they want their debt to be divided, the court will likely abide by this request. However, if this is not the case,  the court must intervene and decide how debt division will occur. 

What’s Considered Marital and Non-Marital Debt?

In determining who is responsible for specific debts, the court will examine what marital and non-marital debts are present. Marital debt refers to debts acquired or money spent after the start of the marriage. Each spouse may be responsible for this type of debt, regardless of who obtained it.  Non-marital debt refers to debt that was acquired by either spouse before the marriage began, which also typically includes student loans.  However, if the other spouse has been making payments or contributing to the obtained debt, it can be considered marital debt depending on how, when, and why that spouse was contributing to the debt. In most cases, non-marital debt will remain the responsibility of the spouse who obtained it, but this is not always the case. The court will divide marital and non-marital debt as fairly as possible between spouses. 

What if I Was Unaware My Spouse Had Debt?

In certain circumstances, a spouse may be unaware of certain debts that the other spouse has acquired. If the debt is attempted to be divided equally, it can appear unreasonable to the unaware spouse. In this case, an attorney can help advocate for a redistribution of debt.  There are also circumstances where a spouse is spending “outside’ of the marriage and this can be considered dissipation of the marital estate.  An experienced Chicago divorce attorney can discuss the red flags of dissipation and tracing requirements to determine how to proceed. 

An Experienced Illinois Attorney Can Help

It is common to be concerned about the distribution of debt during a divorce. The good news is, you don’t have to tackle these issues alone. If you have questions about the division of debt in Illinois divorces, contact our experienced attorneys today. 

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