January 12, 2021
During a divorce in Illinois, all property and assets earned, acquired, or accumulated during your marriage will be divided between you and your spouse. This goes for marital debts, as well. Most couples hold joint credit cards, have personal loans in both their names, and often act as co-signers on big ticket purchases, such as cars and homes. Even if you are not listed on these accounts, you could still be liable for helping to pay off the balance.
While couples often anticipate legal battles over property and other marital assets during a divorce, they may overlook the fact that they will need to divide all marital debts between them, as well. Under the Illinois Statutes, debts accumulated by either spouse over the course of the marriage may be subject to equitable distribution in a divorce. This means that rather than simply dividing debts 50/50 between you and the other party, the judge will consider certain factors, including:
Even if your spouse has a debt in their name alone, you may be responsible for a portion of it if they can show you benefited from it in any way. Likewise, if they racked up considerable amounts on joint credits cards without your knowledge or to finance an affair or addiction you may be able to avoid having to assume responsibility for the amount owed.
The best strategy for dealing with marital debts in a divorce is to close all joint accounts and pay off the balances prior to filing. In some cases, couples may want to consider the option of filing for bankruptcy as a way of making a fresh start. You will also want to have your divorce attorney review any pre or post marital agreements that may be in place, which often address the issue of how marital debts will be divided. If you do carry debts into your divorce proceedings, there are several options for dealing with them:
To protect yourself against having to pay more than your fair share of debts in divorce, get the Women’s Divorce and Family Law Group on your side. To request a consultation, call or contact our Chicago divorce attorneys online today.