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What Happens to Debt During a Massachusetts Divorce?

When couples divorce, they are usually eager to divide their assets and receive what they consider to be rightfully theirs. In some cases, each divorcing spouse wants to keep as much property as possible. Houses, money, property, and child custody are all highly contested items during a divorce. However, when it comes to debt, couples are usually slow to take responsibility (for obvious reasons). Even if only one person in a marriage has accrued debt, the other spouse might be responsible for paying off this debt.

In contested divorces in Massachusetts, property is divided by the court "equitably," or fairly, but not necessarily in equal parts. Two categories are used to divide property during divorce: separate property and marital property. Any property purchased during marriage is typically considered marital property, while anything either spouse owned before the marriage is considered separate property.

Debt is treated the same way.

Single-Person Debt

Because debt is a type of "property," at least in divorce law, then debt accrued during the marriage will be divided between both parties. Solo debt is considered marital debt if it was accrued during a marriage or for its benefit. For the benefit of the marriage could include something like buying a family vehicle, taking a loan for a remodel of the family home, or similar expenses. Notably, a person may be responsible for debt they may not have even known about. If your spouse was using credit cards you weren't aware of, you'll still need to pay that debt off.

However, any debt that was brought into the marriage is considered solely the responsible for the owning spouse. 

Joint Debt

In Massachusetts, couples who shared a credit card will have to treat it as marital debt. Marital debt is often split down the middle; however, if a court deems one person is not able to handle the burden of a certain amount of debt, the percentage of responsibility may be split unevenly. This helps spouses who were not the primary earners avoid the burden of debt they cannot pay. 

If You Have Marriage Debt, You Need a Massachusetts Divorce Attorney

As mentioned above, a court may hold a person responsible for the debt that they did not know their partner had. Additionally, a divorcee may face the burden of debt which they cannot pay without the income of their former spouse. When you are in the process of divorce and debt is an issue, you need the help of an experienced Massachusetts divorce attorney.

Our team has long-standing relationships with forensic accountants, so you can be certain that the division of your property and debts is done fairly. Additionally, every attorney at Miller Law Group P.C. is assigned to a specific set of courthouses. This means that your lawyer will be familiar with the judges responsible for your future and will know their personal style of ruling.

Call us today for a free consultation at (888) 874-2142. Our Massachusetts divorce attorneys are ready to fight for you.

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