The process of divorce helps people separate their lives from that of their spouse. For couples without children, the main concerns of divorce are usually financial. Even for couples with children, it is common for both of the spouses to worry about the implications of dividing up their assets and their debts.
While most people have a firm understanding of the fact that courts divide the assets acquired by a couple in an Ohio divorce, fewer people understand the way that the Ohio courts will approach debt in a divorce. If you are trying to plan for a fresh start and a better future, educating yourself about how much debt from your ex you will have to repay can help you determine a more accurate budget and plan.
Understanding how Ohio handles asset division
The Ohio courts will apply the same standard to the division of your debts that they apply to the assets you acquire in your marriage. That standard is known as equitable division. Don't let the similarity to the word "equal" throw you off. Equitable means fair, which does not always mean splitting assets and debts right down the middle between spouses.
Instead, it can involve far more in-depth analysis of the couple's social and financial situation. The judge who presides over your divorce will have to review various aspects of your marriage to come up with a fair and equitable solution. Everything from the state of your marriage to your income and health can impact what the courts deem as fair in your divorce.
If one spouse has significantly higher earning potential, they may receive a higher debt burden than their spouse. However, if one spouse incurs debt dishonestly during the marriage, that could impact how the courts rule. Some people engage in financial infidelity, which may involve hiding assets or shopping and incurring debt without the knowledge of a spouse. This kind of infidelity is common, and it may impact the asset and debt division in your divorce.
Knowledge of debt and timing is more important than the name on the account
It is common for spouses to open individual lines of credit during marriage. Spouses may finance their vehicles independently. They may even have their own credit cards instead of sharing joint accounts. The way you handle your accounts, the dates when you incurred debt and the nature of the debt will all impact how the courts choose to allocate individual debts.
In most scenarios, provided that both spouses were part of incurring the debt or at least aware of its existence, the courts will do their best to divide both of the debts and assets in a fair manner. It's important to remember that even if an account is only in your spouse's name, you could bear some responsibility for paying it. Similarly, your ex could end up paying an account in your name.
Even student loans, which only directly benefit one member of the couple, may wind up split. This is particularly true if the person who secured the schooling can demonstrate that they did so with the intention of contributing to the household. Debt and its division can be difficult to handle in a divorce. Discussing the specific nature of your debt with an Ohio family law attorney is an important step toward protecting your future.