Even when the decision to end a marriage is mutual, divorce is never a walk in the park. You may feel resentful following the end of your marriage. You may also be concerned about your children’s post-divorce living arrangements as well as your financial future.
Amidst your concerns and worries, however, one of the elephants in the room you will have to address is the debt you accumulated while you were married. Any debt acquired during a marriage is known as marital debt, and the answer to who is responsible for it comes down to a number of factors such as the prenuptial agreement, whose name the debt is on as well as Tennessee property division laws.
What Tennessee law says about the division of marital debt
With very few exceptions, any property acquired during the marriage belongs to both parties. The same is true of marital debt. Thus, in the event of a divorce, the value of the debts for which the couple is responsible is distributed equitably between the parties involved. However, this distribution process is rarely straightforward. Other factors may come into play when dividing marital debt. Some of these include:
- Whether the debt was incurred individually or by both parties
- The purpose for which the debt was incurred
- How the debt benefitted the marriage
- Each party’s financial ability to pay for the debt
As part of their divorce settlement, the parties can reach an agreement on how the debt will be divided. Otherwise, a judge will be called upon to determine how it should be allocated.
Can you be called upon to pay debts that are in your ex’s name?
Well, this depends on when and why they acquired the debt. You are typically not responsible for the debts your ex acquired before you got married. However, you may be obligated to pay debts that were acquired during the marriage, even if the debts in question benefitted or are still benefitting your ex. For instance, if you co-signed on a car for your ex while you were married, creditors will definitely come for you if your spouse defaults on their payments.
Protecting your interests
Divorce can be messy, especially if a significant amount of debt is involved. Seeking legal guidance and learning how Tennessee’s marital property laws work can help you safeguard your interests when navigating the subject of marital debt.