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 July 3, 2015 |

Many people in Louisiana carry some form of debt. Whether it is credit card debt, medical debt or a mortgage, debt is just a part of one’s financial life both before one is married, as well as during the course of the marriage. However, it may surprise some to learn that, just like property, debts will be divided between the spouses at the end of a marriage. Therefore, it is important to understand what one’s financial responsibilities will be after a divorce.

Let’s start with medical debt. Even those with health insurance may find that insurance doesn’t cover everything, and after a major illness or injury they are still facing some hefty medical bills. In community property states like Louisiana, all medical debt, no matter which spouse’s name is on it, may be subject to division between both spouses.

Next, let’s take a look at mortgages. Dividing a mortgage can be more complex than dividing other types of debts in property division. For example, if one spouse’s salary is significantly higher than his or her ex’s salary, the higher-earning spouse may be awarded the mortgage. On the other hand, if one spouse has taken on full physical custody of their children, that spouse may be awarded the mortgage. In both of these scenarios, the spouse who is keeping the home may have to buy out his or her ex’s share of the home equity. That being said, some couples simply determine that instead of one of them keeping the house and the accompanying mortgage, they are going to sell the house instead.

Finally, let’s examine credit card debt. The key turning point in such situations may be whether it was a separate account or a joint account. Usually debt accumulated during the marriage will be considered community property and divided as such, no matter who was making the credit card payments or whose name was on the account. However, in some circumstances, if a credit card account only had one spouse’s name on it and that spouse paid for it out of separate funds, that spouse may be responsible for it after a divorce.

Dividing debt can be just as complex – and just as important – as dividing property after a divorce. Taking care of one’s financial health after a divorce is crucial. Seeking the advice of a professional in such situations may be one way to protect one’s interests during the debt division process and other divorce legal issues.

Source:, “What happens to my debt If I get a divorce?,” Leslie Tayne, June 23, 2015

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