Easing The Stress Of Your Family Law Matter

Will I have to pay for my spouse’s debts after divorce?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a challenging and often complicated process. It involves various legal and financial considerations, including the evaluation of personal debts.

Debt responsibility is a sensitive topic during divorce, particularly when one spouse might be accountable for the debts incurred by the other during the marriage. With that in mind, there are certain key points to consider when approaching the topic of debt in your divorce.

Community property states vs. equitable distribution states

Each state follows either community property laws or equitable distribution laws when it comes to dividing assets and liabilities in a divorce. In community property states, debts incurred during the marriage are generally considered joint obligations. Both spouses may be responsible for paying them off, regardless of whose name is on the account.

Kentucky, however, is an equitable distribution state. This means that debts acquired during the marriage are typically divided equitably, but not necessarily equally. Each spouse’s income, assets and contributions to the marriage can impact their debt responsibility. One spouse may not automatically be responsible for the other’s debts, but the division will aim to be fair and just.

Exceptions and considerations

While the general rule is that each spouse is responsible for their own debts incurred before the marriage, there are exceptions to this principle. For instance, if one spouse co-signed a loan for the other or if the debt was for marital expenses, such as household bills or medical expenses, both spouses may be accountable for repayment.

Additionally, if the divorce decree specifies which spouse is responsible for certain debts, both parties are legally bound to adhere to those terms. It is important to carefully review and understand any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements during the divorce proceedings to ensure compliance and avoid future disputes.

As of 2023, the average individual debt per American is $21,800. This means it is statistically likely that your spouse may have significant debt as you enter the divorce process. Knowing how that debt will affect you afterward will help you better plan for the future.