DuPage County Divorce LawyerThe average U.S. adult has just over $90,000 in debt. Mortgage loans, auto loans, credit card debt, student loans, and home equity lines of credit are just some of the debts Americans contend with.

If you are getting divorced, you may have many different questions about what happens to your debt. Who is responsible for the mortgage? What if my spouse ran up credit card bills without my knowledge? Does my spouse have to pay my student loans? Will I have to pay my spouse’s debt if we get divorced?

How Illinois Courts Handle Debt During Divorce

Debts are subject to the same rules as assets during a divorce. This means that debts acquired during the marriage are typically considered marital debts (unless excluded from the marital estate by a prenuptial agreement). Debts acquired before the marriage began are typically considered non-marital debts. For example, if a spouse took out a student loan before the marriage, the loan would likely remain with the spouse who took it out. However, property and debt division can be complicated, and there are a few exceptions to these general rules.

Divorcing spouses have the option to determine the division of assets and debts during their divorce without the court’s involvement. They may be able to negotiate the terms of asset and debt division through their attorneys or work out an agreement during divorce mediation. If the spouses are unable to find a mutually agreeable solution, the court determines the division of debts and assets according to the “equitable distribution” doctrine.

Paying off Debt is Often the Best Option

Many people are surprised to learn that they can be held accountable for marital debt even years after the divorce. For example, if your spouse accumulated credit card debt during the marriage, this is marital debt. The credit card companies are not bound by a divorce decree, so they may pursue you for payment after the divorce.

This is why most spouses are typically advised to pay off joint debt as much as possible during the divorce. This may require the spouses to sell assets such as the marital home, but it is generally seen as the best way to protect oneself from future liability. However, each case is different, and anyone concerned about joint debts should work with an attorney to get specific guidance for their situation.

Contact our Wheaton Divorce Lawyers

Debt is just one issue to consider during a divorce. With the help of an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer, you can ensure that all aspects of your divorce are handled properly.

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