It is common for couples to accumulate property, as well as, debt throughout their marriage. When couples decide to divorce, they must also decide how to split their property and, sometimes, their debt. Dividing debt and property in Maryland can quickly become complex and extremely problematic and often requires professional intervention.
Can the Court Divide Debt During a Divorce in Maryland?
In Maryland, a Court only has power to settle marital debt, not non-marital debt. Marital Debt are bills that are accumulated during the marriage to obtain marital property, such as a mortgage associated with real estate, a lien against a vehicle or other a loan used to purchase other marital property. Non-Marital Debt is debt that is accumulated during the marriage for reasons other than to acquire marital property, such as credit card debt or personal loan.
While the Court can equitably distribute real property, vehicles, bank accounts, and retirement assets among the spouses during a divorce, the Court does not have the power to settle joint or individual debt unless it is a marital debt. Because credit card debt is unsecured debt and is not tied to real or personal property, the Court cannot equitably divide this form of debt.
Therefore, if you and your spouse put all of the credit card debt in your name, you will be legally responsible for it going forward.
How to Handle Debt During a Divorce
Divorcing with debt can negatively impact your future finances, leading to poor credit scores and the inability to obtain necessities, such as vehicle loans, new mortgages or maybe even to rent. It is imperative to be aware of your rights regarding your specific situation when divorcing with debt and dividing property between you and your spouse.
An experienced divorce attorney can advise you of your legal options. Some possibilities include the following:
- Pay off marital debt from combined assets before dividing these assets to either party.
- Have a Collaborative Divorce Attorney or Divorce Mediator create a comprehensive agreement between you and your spouse on how the debt is to be divided upon the divorce.
- Divide and transfer joint debt into individual debt.
Knowing your options and becoming well-informed is the first step. Talk to an experienced Howard County divorce attorney today. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you in navigating the complex issues of divorcing with debt and reach solutions that will be in your best interests in order to protect your credit and allow you to start your new life with a fresh start.
If you have debt and are facing a divorce in Maryland, contact attorney at Jacobson Family Law to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced Howard County divorce lawyer. We are conveniently located in Columbia, Maryland.