During divorce proceedings, there is a separation between marital, and separate property. In Massachusetts, marital property must be divided equitably. Marital property can include both your assets and your debts. This raises the question: how is the debt divided up?
One may think that a debt incurred in one spouse’s name, will be assigned to them after the divorce; however, this is not always the case. If a debt is incurred by one spouse, prior to the marriage, this will be considered separate property. However, if the debt occurs during the marriage, and used for a “marital purpose,” the debt is considered marital property. This can be the case, even if a debt is incurred unbeknownst to the other spouse. A debt used for a “marital purpose” is determined by the utility derived from the debt. For example, if student loans are incurred during a long term marriage, and the other spouse derives benefit from the resulting income increase, that debt will be considered marital. However, if the marriage was short term, and the spouse did not derive benefit from the loans, then the debt may not be considered marital.
It is up to the Court to decide how to equitably distribute marital debt. For these reasons, representation in the divorce process is of the utmost importance. If you are concerned about the division of debt in your divorce proceedings, contact Briones Law Group. We will help ensure that your marital debts, as well as your assets, are appropriately distributed.