8thJun 2019

Will I have to pay my spouse’s debts in a divorce? 

You can find the law relevant to division of debts in a divorce in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act at 750 ILCS 5/503.  This is a basic overview of debts in divorce in Illinois.  You should consult an attorney to discuss how the law applies to the facts in your case.

Is the debt a marital debt?

Marital debts can be distributed in divorce proceedings.  Generally, a marital debt is a debt incurred by either party during the marriage.  A common example of a marital debt is a mortgage for a house purchased during the marriage.

What if my name is not on the debt?

If the debt was accrued in either party’s name during the marriage, then there is a presumption that the debt is marital and can be distributed between the parties.

How does the court determine responsibility for debts?

The court will divide debts in just proportions considering all relevant factors.  Some of the factors specifically set out in the law are the duration of the marriage, the economic circumstances of the parties, the age, education, and health of the parties, and whether maintenance has been awarded.

It is important to know that Illinois is a “no fault” state.  That means that the court cannot consider marital misconduct, such as adultery or even abuse when dividing property.

What if my spouse incurred this debt without my knowledge?

A spouse can be held responsible for a debt of which they were not aware.  However, the court can consider what the debt was for, why it was concealed, and whether it benefitted the family when determining responsibility.

What if my spouse does not pay a debt that was court ordered?

A spouse can be ordered to pay a debt that is in the other spouse’s name.  Parties often believe that this alleviates their liability for the debt.  However, the creditor, a bank that made a car loan for example, can still collect from the spouse whose name was on the loan.  That spouse then has recourse in family law to pursue payment of the debt from the other spouse.  This kind of remedy may not be sufficient if the spouse’s credit or financial situation has been damaged.  Therefore, it is wise to have a competent attorney drafting the terms of the debt division to protect your interests.

Contact us if you are facing a divorce.  We have the knowledge and experience to vigorously fight for you.

Content contained on this site is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. You should consult an attorney of your choosing to discuss your particular case and to obtain legal advice specific to your situation.