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How is debt divided in a divorce?

A significant part of a divorce agreement is the division of a couple's assets. However, the division of debt can be just as impactful on your financial future. Everyone has different types of debt. However, we're going to discuss a few of the most common types and how they may be split up and redistributed in a divorce.

It should be noted that Maryland is not a community property state. That means that there is generally more flexibility in the way that assets and debts are divided than there is for couples in one of those states.

A mortgage is often the largest single debt that most couples have. Usually the person who makes more money is given the responsibility for the mortgage unless the other person has full custody of the children. The person not assuming the mortgage would be required to give up his or her equity in the home. Some couples choose to sell the home and divide the money they get from the sale.

Credit card debt is something that most of us are all too familiar with. How that debt is split up depends on whether the cards are in both names or just one. If the card is in your name only, you will most likely be responsible for the balance due.

Medical debt for many couples can be substantial. How it is divided will often depend on whether a couple was together when the debt was incurred and whether it is for what is considered "necessary care." The impact of the debt on the children may also be factored in by the court in making a decision.

It's important to know exactly what debt is in your name before you negotiate responsibility for it with your spouse and his or her attorney. If you obtain your credit report and compile all of the necessary documents, that will help you and your attorney know what is in your name and help you work toward negotiating a division of the debt with your spouse.

The more issues, such as debt responsibilities, that couples and their attorneys can negotiate outside of court, the less control you have to hand over to a judge who doesn't know you. By reaching an agreement outside of court, you can also save time, money and stress.

Source:, "What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?," Leslie Tayne, June 23, 2015

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