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Reviewing debt division during divorce

Most of the married residents of Rockville may be more than happy to share everything with their spouses. That includes their debts. Yet once people decide to end their marriages, such altruism also often ends with it. One might look as his or her limited role in assuming a liability and question whether or not he or she should be held responsible for it. While it may be well known that divorcing couples are typically required to divide their property between each other, many often also wonder if they have to do the same with their debts. 

The answer depends upon the nature of the debt. There are certain liabilities that are often inextricably linked to marriage (such as the purchase of a marital home). Typically, the responsibility to resolve such debts is joint. One might say that, in general, any debt that a couple assumes while married is shared (even after the marriage ends). Conversely, a debt assumed by one prior to getting married is separate. Indeed, this is confirmed in Section 4-301(a) of Maryland’s state statutes. 

The law also goes on to say that a person is not liable for any tort due to action committed by his or her spouse, or a contract taken solely under that spouse’s name. Property owned solely by one spouse also cannot be liable to pay for the other’s debts. 

Not surprisingly, financial difficulties are included in the list of the most common reasons for divorce compiled by the Huffington Post. However, those difficulties are typically not due to a lack of finances, but rather disagreements over how they should be used. It is for this reason why the issue of debt may pop up so much during divorce proceedings. 

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