Debts and Divorce: Here’s What You Need to Know

When a couple gets divorced both spouses are usually very concerned with how their assets will be divided. While property division is obviously a very important aspect of dissolving a marriage, dividing a couple's debts is often just as, if not more, critical. This article provides a general overview of how debts are handled during Michigan divorces, but for case specific information be sure to contact a local divorce attorney.

How are Debts Divided in Michigan?

When a family law judge is called upon to distribute a divorcing couple's debts here in Michigan he/she is legally required to fairly distribute the couple's marital debts. But what counts as "marital debt"? Generally speaking, debt acquired during a couple's marriage is classified as marital debt (with some limited exceptions such as student loans spent on one spouse's education). It is important to note that marital debt does include debt that was taken out under just one spouse's name. For example, if Ted racks up $10,000 worth of credit card debt while married to Sally on a card that was only in his name that $10,000 debt would be considered a marital debt in Michigan and would be distributed fairly between Ted and Sally upon their divorce.

Fair Does Not Necessarily Mean Equal

When people hear that marital debts are divided "fairly" in Michigan divorces they often mistakenly equate this to mean that the marital debts are divided "equally". Don't make this mistake, fair does not necessarily mean equal. Admittedly, when a Michigan divorce is finalized each ex-spouse will typically walk away with half of the couple's marital debts, but that is not always the case. It is important to note that a fair distribution of a couple's debt does not necessarily mean an equal 50-50 split. For example, family law judges in Michigan have been known to unequally divide a couple's marital debt when:

  • One spouse has substantially more means than the other,

  • One spouse is at fault for ending the marriage,

  • One spouse is being awarded more of the couple's property (and is taking on the accompanying mortgages etc.), or

  • One spouse incurred substantial marital debt that did not benefit the household without their spouse's consent.

Contact Us Today

Asset and debt division during a divorce is always tricky. This area of the law can get very complex and, understandably, financial settlements are almost always a hot button issue that provokes a great deal of emotion from the divorcing spouses. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we are committed to making this trying process run as smoothly as possible for our clients while all the while tenaciously fighting for what they are legally entitled to. To find out what our firm can do for you contact our Bloomfield Hills office today at (248) 646-7980.