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Treatment of debts and liabilities in asset division in divorce

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Divorce

Dividing assets in a dissolution of marriage or divorce often involves not only splitting property but also addressing debts and liabilities.

In Colorado, the process follows specific guidelines to ensure fairness.

Understanding marital vs. separate debt

It is important to distinguish between marital and separate debt during a divorce. Marital debt includes liabilities incurred during the marriage, while separate debt refers to obligations one spouse had before the marriage. The court considers the purpose of the debt and whether both spouses benefited from it when classifying it as marital or separate.

Equitable distribution of debt

Colorado follows an equitable distribution model, meaning the division of debts and liabilities aims to be fair, though not necessarily equal. The court considers factors such as each spouse’s income, the duration of the marriage and each spouse’s financial contributions. The court also examines each spouse’s role in incurring the debt.

Joint and individual debt responsibilities

Joint debts, such as mortgages or joint credit card balances, often need careful handling. Both spouses are typically responsible for these debts, regardless of whose name is on the account. Individual debts, such as personal credit cards or loans taken out by one spouse, generally remain that spouse’s responsibility unless the debt benefits the marriage.

Debt assigned to each spouse

The court assigns debts to each spouse based on the equitable distribution principle. One spouse might take on more debt if they have a higher earning capacity or if the other spouse receives more assets. The goal is to balance the financial responsibilities and assets between both parties fairly.

Legal and financial implications

Dividing debts and liabilities has significant legal and financial implications. Legal professionals can help draft agreements that outline each spouse’s responsibilities and protect their interests. Financial advisors can assist in understanding the long-term impact of debt division and help plan for future financial stability.

Managing debts and liabilities during a divorce can be complex. Understanding how it works can help both parties navigate the division of debts and liabilities while safeguarding their financial futures.