Although divorce is rarely an easy or simple decision, it is often complicated by the amount of debt you and your spouse have. Therefore, it is important to be aware of how much debt is owed and what kind of debt it is, before selecting an attorney.
In addition, if you and your spouse do not jointly agree to both the decision to divorce and the resulting division of debt, it is often better to hire an experienced trial attorney that handles divorces. Because not all divorce attorneys are willing to handle complicated divorces when the division of debt is in question, understanding your debt is likely to save you a lot of time.
Debts And Assets That Accumulated Before And During The Marriage
It is first important to note that the state you live in will factor into the decisions made by the court. Specifically, if you live in a community property state, both parties are typically equally responsible for all debt incurred by either party during the marriage.
The same is also true of assets, but the situation can get even more complicated if any debt existed at the time of the marriage for either person and then increased during the relationship. In that instance, it is frequently necessary to show proof of payments, the amount of debt that existed at the time of the marriage and how it grew after that.
Debt From Living Expenses
This category includes standard expenses related to shelter and includes:
- The amount of your mortgage or rent payments, which includes the terms of any existing lease
- Utility costs
- Cable and Internet expenses
- Cell phones
A good rule of thumb is that if either of you entered into a contract for a standard service or product related to your home, it will usually be classified as living expenses debt and will be allocated appropriately. Non-standard services or services that do not benefit are often evaluated on a case-by-case basis by the judge unless you and your spouse agree otherwise.
Common examples of living expenses that may not always be divided evenly include:
- House cleaning
- Home beauty services
- Complicated lawn care services
- Student loans
Community Property Debt
Once you have a list of the debts that are considered your living expenses, everything else is known as community property. Credit cards, loans and any financed item are common examples. That means that although the home qualifies as a living expense, any financed furniture or electronics in it will usually be classified as community property.
In conclusion, choosing the right divorce attorney can affect the rest of your life. Fairly and appropriately dividing debt is often the responsibility of the court, especially if amicable decisions cannot be made between you and your spouse. If you suspect that the divorce is going to get ugly before it is over, you need the best attorney on your side and understanding your debt is the first step to choosing the right attorney. .