property division in a
divorce, it can feel like a land-grab for desirable assets and property. Neither
spouse will be eager to claim debt, though. When it comes to
debt division, it can feel like everyone loses, but it must be done for the divorce
to eventually finalize.
Is the Debt Community or Separate?
Just like with any other piece of property in a divorce, the court will
first try to determine if a piece of debt is community or separate. Community
debt is any form of debt accrued during the marriage by both spouses,
or for both spouses’ benefit. Separate debt is debt that preexisted
the marriage and only belonged to one spouse.
Separate debt can be comparatively easy to assign. Unless there are some
highly convincing arguments otherwise, the court will most likely give
the separate debt to the original owner. Indeed, separate debt might not
even be eligible for court review and simply go straight to its owner.
Community debt will need to be distributed either equitably or equally,
depending on how the debt was created and why. In equitable debt division,
each spouse will be given a “fairly calculated” percentage
of the debt. For example, if one spouse wanted a new sports car and the
other did not but it was placed on a shared credit line, any resulting
debt might be divided 20-80%, with the latter being given to the spouse
that insisted on buying it. Equal distribution of community debts fits
more in line of many property division cases in California, and the court
will simply try to divide the debt as close to 50-50% as possible, regardless
of why it was accrued.
Handle Debt Division with a Family Lawyer
If you do not approach debt division carefully, you could be handed debt
that really should not be your responsibility. To protect your finances
and best interests, you should call
805.633.4999 and speak to me, Westlake Village divorce Attorney Jeffrey Graff of the
Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff. For more than 30 years, I have been offering
my legal services to people in need and helping steer them towards better
Contact me today to learn more about debt division in California and how to begin