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How is debt divided in divorce?

Divorcing couples have much to be concerned about while attempting to divide one life into two. From the division of assets to developing an effective parenting schedule, the decision to end a marriage can bring numerous emotional challenges. One thing that many couples don’t consider at first is division of debt.

While many couples first consider the division of assets and property such as the marital home, vacation property, vehicles, the family business or retirement plans, that is only a piece of the overall puzzle. When building the foundation for two separate financial futures, divorcing couples must also consider the division of their debts.

Not all debts will be considered shared, but those that are will need to be addressed, including:

  • Joint credit card debt such as credit cards that you’ve shared or both had access to during the marriage.
  • Mortgage debt will likely be shared, but couples can generally choose to sell the house and split the proceeds, or one party buys out the other.
  • Auto loan debt can be challenging. It might be possible to refinance the vehicle without the other party on the paperwork or, similar to the family home, one spouse can buy the other spouse’s stake in the vehicle.
  • Medical debt in a community property state like Arizona is generally split between both parties, no matter which spouse accumulated the debt.

The division of assets and debts can be complicated, and it is wise to have a skilled family law attorney on your side from start to finish. An experienced lawyer can thoroughly assess your situation and work with you to negotiate a split that takes into account all factors including assets, debt, custody and support.