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How is debt divided in a divorce?

| Mar 9, 2017 | Family Law |

If you and your spouse are choosing to divorce, then you may not have to worry about him or her making off with all of your property in West Bend. Wisconsin is a marital property state, meaning that all marital assets are subject to equal division in a divorce. Yet what about your debts? You and your spouse may a have a shared mortgage, as well as joint credit cards. Is all of this shared equally, as well?

In most cases, yes. Just as is the case with property division, the court will consider any of the following factors (as detailed on the website for the Wisconsin State Legislature) before determining if marital debts should be divided equally:

  •          The duration of the marriage.
  •          Whether you or your ex-spouse has considerable assets compared to the other.
  •          Yours and your ex-spouse’s contribution to the marriage.
  •          Yours and your ex-spouse’s contributions to the career advancement of the other.
  •          Yours and your ex-spouse’s earning capacity.
  •          Yours and your ex-spouse’s tax liabilities.

In addition, any prenuptial agreements the two of you signed are also taken into account when dividing debt.

Another factor that the court uses to determine debt ownership is marital waste. This is defined as any marital assets used for non-marital purposes. The state notes in its statutes that to require you to share in the debts acquired by your ex-spouse’s unjustified depletion of your marital assets fails to adequately take into account your contributions to your marital estate. That means that the responsibility to resolve any debts deemed to be marital waste will be given solely to the party that accrued them. An example may be if your ex-spouse had a drug addiction and went into debt to support it. He or she would likely fully assume that debt following your divorce.