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How is debt divided in a California divorce?

On Behalf of | May 31, 2022 | Divorce |

When you divorce, you need to understand what happens to the money you owe as well as the money you own.

California is an equitable distribution state, requiring you to separate your assets and debts into separate or community. Then you must divide anything labeled community property equally.

Which debts are separate property?

Typically this covers those that one party had before the marriage or took on after the divorce filing date. Most of the rest is considered community debt, even if only one person took out the loan or spent money on that credit card.

What if you think that’s not fair?

Fair is a subjective term. If you do not think it is fair that you are held equally accountable for a particular debt, then you need to explain to the court why. If you convince them, then they may free you from the obligation of it. Here are some times when that might occur:

  • Your spouse maxed out the credit card to take their lover away for romantic weekends
  • Your spouse spent it on the car of their dreams days before filing for divorce, and as you cannot drive, they intend to keep the car
  • Your spouse took out loans to pay off their secret gambling debts
  • Your spouse took out a particular loan or bought a particular item despite a heated argument where you insisted you did not support their decision

A judge is not obliged to absolve you from responsibility for the debt in any of these cases. They can still insist on leaving you with a share of it, so the more evidence you can provide to support your argument, the better. Getting legal help to stake your claim for a fair division of property and debt in your divorce will be crucial.