When you’re getting a divorce in the state of California, you need to know that we live in what’s called a community property state. What that means is that the property you own – for the most part – belongs to both parties in your marriage. The same is true for debt; you both own it in most cases.
That means California courts divide debt in a divorce. Generally, divorcing couples can negotiate their own division of debt; the court will likely agree to it if the division is fair and equitable to both parties. That doesn’t always mean 50-50, though – every case is different, and you should talk to your Stockton divorce attorney about the division of your marital debt.
How Do Courts Divide Debt in a Divorce?
In California, debt is treated a lot like property is during a divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on how you’ll divide debt that belongs to both of you, the court will do it for you.
When a judge has to decide how to divide your debt, he or she will consider several factors, including:
- Who is receiving more property (such as the marital home)
- Whether the parties are exchanging spousal support
- Whether one or both parties brought some debt into the marriage
In most cases, it’s best if you and your spouse can come to a fair agreement on your own – but remember that taking the entire amount you owe and dividing it in half isn’t always a good idea. That’s because your creditors don’t have to honor your agreement; creditors may choose to go after the spouse or partner who signed the contract to borrow money (like a credit card agreement) without concerning themselves with the agreement you and your spouse made. That means if your spouse agrees to take on half your credit card debt, for example, but he or she misses a payment, the credit card company can still come after you.
What Happens if One Spouse Doesn’t Uphold His or Her End of the Bargain?
If one spouse doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain by making debt payments, creditors might come after the other spouse. The non-defaulting party – the one who is holding up his or her end of the bargain – may petition the court to enforce the divorce settlement.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About How Courts Divide Debt in a Divorce?
If you’re thinking about divorce, or if your spouse has already filed the necessary paperwork and you need to react, you may need to talk to a divorce attorney in Stockton. We can answer your questions about how courts divide debt in divorce, whether you’ll be required to pay or entitled to receive spousal support, how to figure out child custody and the division of property, as well as any other questions you may have or refer you to a therapist focusing on divorce issues.
Call us at 209-910-9865 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with an attorney. We may be able to help you.