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Which debts are subject to division in a Florida divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 24, 2023 | Equitable Distribution

Couples tend to share almost everything after getting married. They may buy a house together and deposit their paychecks into a shared checking account. They may also start using shared credit cards. Each spouse may have their own card that contributes to the overall balance on the account. This arrangement is convenient and allows for enhanced financial transparency, as each spouse can see how the other spends shared resources.

Those combined financial obligations can understandably become a point of contention as people begin preparing for divorce in Florida. People may disagree about what debts they need to share. Which financial obligations are subject to division under Florida’s equitable distribution statute?

Most debts from during the marriage are in play

People generally understand that they will have to divide responsibility for joint or shared financial accounts in a Florida divorce. They may be less certain about the debts owed by one spouse. People may take out separate credit cards, personal loans or even student loans during a marriage. Such financial obligations may be solely in the name of one spouse. However, if they originated during the marriage, they are likely part of the marital estate. The total value of those debts can influence other property division decisions in a Florida divorce.

Both spouses may have an obligation to help cover student loans and personal loans that either spouse took on during the marriage. However, people don’t necessarily need to split each debt. They can each assume responsibility for certain financial obligations or use marital property to balance out the obligations associated with marital debts.

Occasionally, some debts will not be part of the pool of marital property. Debts that people incurred after formally separating or in an attempt to harm the marital estate may not be subject to division. If someone went on a shopping spree the week before filing for divorce, a judge might view that spending and the debts that result as marital dissipation. Additionally, debts related to extramarital affairs are often the separate financial responsibility of the person who took on those debts.

Spouses need to understand what the law requires and the state of their finances if they hope to negotiate an appropriate and equitable division of their property and financial responsibilities. Identifying separate and marital debts is an important starting point for financial negotiations during a Florida divorce.