Property division is the part of a divorce that most often causes strife and conflict. This stress is amplified when the couple has sizeable debt. If you have an imminent divorce, you might be wondering which of you will be saddled with the responsibility for your marital debts.
The difference between marital and individual debt
To figure out where your debt will go, it’s important to determine whether it counts as marital or individual debt. In general, marital debt will be subject to division, while individual debt will remain with the spouse that originally incurred it.
In general, debt that you incurred before getting married will stay with you after your divorce, while debt incurred as a married couple will be divided equitably. However, there are some exceptions to this.
For example, student debt will usually stay with the spouse who took it out in their name, regardless of whether they were married at the time or not.
How courts apportion debt
In Colorado, debt is considered marital property, and thus the judge will divide it just as they would divide any other marital assets. They will take into account a variety of factors in order to make an equitable division of the marital debt as well as of the marital property.
Courts look to each spouse’s yearly income, education level, earning capacity, individual assets and anything else that would affect their ability to support themselves, such as health problems. If one spouse is likely to be able to support a much higher lifestyle than the other, then the court might think it’s equitable to apportion a greater percentage of the marital debt to that spouse.
There’s no way to guarantee exactly how a divorce court will divide up your marital debt. However, you can get a general idea of about how much debt you’ll be stuck with by calculating your individual debt, and adding an estimate of how much of your marital debt you’re likely to get based on your living situation.