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Division of debt in divorce

As Pennsylvania couples likely know, divorce involves division of assets when spouses go their separate ways. Some individuals may not realize it includes the division of debts, and knowing how this works might help to avoid surprises and stress during the divorce proceedings.

The case of a marital home may be handled in several ways. While the partner who makes the higher amount of money may be the one who retains the property, it is possible that the spouse with custody of the children may be granted the right to retain the home. This may involve one spouse buying out the other spouse's share in the property. In cases where this is not possible, the partners may agree to sell the property and split the proceeds.

Credit card debt division may depend on whether accounts are held in common or only in one name. In many cases, debt accumulated during the marriage when the account is in both names is considered a debt owed by both partners. On the other hand, a credit card with only one name on it may be considered the debt of only that individual if it was used without commingling funds. Medical debt may be handled differently in community property states as opposed to those that follow the principle of equitable distribution. In a community property state, these debts may be equally divided and, as a result, one partner may be responsible for a medical bill that individual did not incur personally. In an equitable distribution state such as Pennsylvania, the court will usually have more leeway in deciding who will pay each debt.

An individual who is contemplating a divorce may wish to speak to a family law attorney. In some cases, legal counsel can assist a client in negotiations with the other spouse that will produce a proposed settlement agreement that will cover property division and other pertinent divorce legal issues.

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