Understanding Debt Division in Florida Divorces
When a marriage comes to an end in Florida, both assets and liabilities are subject to division between the parties. This process is often complex, as it involves determining not only what is owned but also what is owed. In Florida, the division of debts follows the same equitable distribution principles that apply to the division of assets.
Equitable Distribution of Debts
In Florida, 'equitable' does not necessarily mean 'equal', but rather what is fair to both parties. Courts consider a number of factors when dividing debts in a divorce, such as each spouse's financial situation, the duration of the marriage, and how the debt was incurred. Generally, debts incurred during the marriage are considered marital liabilities and are split between the spouses. However, if a debt was incurred by one spouse prior to the marriage or for non-marital purposes, it may be deemed non-marital and assigned to that individual.
Types of Debts in Divorce Proceedings
Common types of debts that need to be addressed during a divorce include credit card debt, mortgages, car loans, and personal loans. For example, if a couple has a joint mortgage on their marital home, they must decide whether one party will keep the home and assume the mortgage or if the home will be sold and the proceeds used to pay off the debt.
Impact on Credit and Financial Stability
It's important for divorcing individuals to understand that lenders are not bound by divorce decrees. This means that if your name is on a joint debt, you remain responsible for it in the eyes of creditors—even if your divorce settlement states that your ex-spouse will make the payments. If your ex fails to pay a joint debt, your credit could be negatively affected.
Protecting Yourself Financially
To protect themselves, individuals may negotiate debt settlements or refinancing options as part of their divorce agreement. They might also consider closing joint credit accounts or transferring joint debts into individual accounts when possible.
Seeking Legal Guidance
Given the complexities surrounding debt division in Florida divorces, it is critical for individuals to seek legal guidance. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable advice on protecting your financial interests and ensuring an equitable distribution of both assets and liabilities.