During a divorce, you are likely to face a long and uphill battle with your husband to untangle your life. This includes dividing assets and debts. One of the most common questions our law firm hears is, “Am I responsible for my husband’s debts?” This question often arises when a partner racks up credit card or business debt during the marriage.
In Georgia, debts incurred during a marriage are generally considered marital debts. So yes, even if your name is not on the account, you’re liable for paying those debts with your husband. However, before you begin frantically worrying, it is important to know that there are exceptions to this. Only an experienced Atlanta divorce attorney can untangle your finances and determine which debts you’re responsible for paying.
The Role of Equitable Distribution
When it comes to the division of assets and debts in Georgia, it’s not just about slicing everything down the middle. The state follows a principle known as “equitable distribution,” which, despite its name, doesn’t always translate to a neat 50/50 split.
So, what does equitable distribution mean? It’s all about achieving a sense of fairness and justice in the eyes of the law. When a judge is faced with dividing up assets and debts from marriage, they consider various factors.
First and foremost, they closely examine each spouse’s financial situation. Are there substantial income disparities? Are there significant assets held by one spouse that might offset certain debts?
Contributions to marriage also play a pivotal role. These contributions aren’t just limited to financial inputs; they encompass everything from homemaking and childcare to career sacrifices for the family’s benefit. This means that if your husband’s debts outweigh your own or if his financial situation allows for a more significant contribution, the division may lean in your favor.
Joint Debts vs. Individual Debts
There is a real difference between joint debts and individual debts during a divorce, and this difference can significantly impact how your debt is divided.
- Joint Debts: You and your husband are equally responsible for these debts. This includes things like mortgages, credit card debt, and personal loans. Even if your name isn’t on the credit card or lease, the state considers all marital debt joint debt.
- Individual Debts: Some debts are considered individual debts, however. These debts belong solely to one spouse and might include student loans taken out before marriage.
If you can clearly distinguish between joint and individual debts, it becomes much easier to determine who should shoulder the burden during divorce. As discussed earlier, joint debts are typically subject to equitable distribution, while individual debts usually stay with the spouse who owns them.
Unfortunately, distinguishing between the two isn’t as simple as it sounds. For example, what if you started with an individual debt that somehow became entangled with your husband’s finances over time? These gray areas can muddy the waters, and that’s where legal advice becomes invaluable.
Protecting Your Financial Interests
Keep a close watch on any joint bank accounts or credit cards you share with your husband. While maintaining transparency is essential, you also want to ensure that funds are not being misused or assets depleted before your divorce.
If you know that divorce is looming, consider closing unnecessary joint accounts. This can prevent further financial entanglement and reduce the risk of additional debt accumulation.
If possible, work together with your husband to pay off joint debts before divorce proceedings. Clearing these debts can simplify dividing assets and liabilities, potentially reducing conflicts.
In some cases, converting joint debts into individual debts might be feasible. This is often done by refinancing loans or transferring the debt to the spouse, who can take full responsibility. Converting joint debts into individual debts can streamline the debt division process.
Seeking Legal Counsel
Divorce laws in Georgia are tricky. You need a lawyer on your side who can help you through this difficult time while keeping your future in mind. Your Atlanta divorce lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and obligations regarding your debt division. This will help you make better decisions about your future. This knowledge empowers you to make informed decisions.
When it comes to debt division, negotiations can be intense. Your attorney will represent your interests and work to secure the best possible outcome for you. They’ll negotiate with your spouse’s legal counsel to arrive at a settlement that accurately and equitably divides your joint debts and assets.
What About Debt Incurred After Separation?
In Georgia, debts incurred after the date of separation are typically considered separate debts. This means they’re the sole responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. So, if your husband decides to rack up credit card debt post-separation, you generally won’t be held liable for it.
As with many legal matters, there can be exceptions. If you’ve signed joint agreements or co-signed for loans or credit cards post-separation, you might still find yourself financially entangled. Courts may also consider the purpose of the debt. If it was for necessary expenses like child support or essential living costs, it could potentially be treated differently.
To protect your interests, it’s essential to maintain clear documentation of the date of separation. This can include legal separation agreements or written communication acknowledging the separation. This documentation can serve as evidence if any disputes arise about debts incurred after the fact.
Contact Our Atlanta Divorce Lawyers
If you’re concerned about whether you’ll be required to pay your husband’s debts during your divorce, call our Atlanta divorce law firm today. We can review your assets and debts and help you better understand your financial responsibilities during your divorce. Our attorneys work diligently to safeguard your future at every turn.
Contact us today at (770) 284-6153 or conveniently fill out our confidential contact form. By doing so, you can schedule a consultation to explore all of your legal options.
At Hobson & Hobson, P.C., we want to simplify the divorce process. You and your family have already been through enough. Let us take the burdens off your shoulders. Call us today!