How is debt divided in a Georgia divorce? According to Georgia law, all debts that happened during the marriage will be equitably, or fairly, divided. However, equitably doesn’t always mean equally.
The title does not matter. For example, if your spouse has major credit card debt in their name alone, these debts can still be judged as marital. If that happens, you may be responsible for some of your spouse’s debt. The critical factors are the timing of the debt and its purpose.
Your awareness of a debt can play a major factor in how the court fairly divides it. For example, let’s say your husband owes $10,000 in credit card debt from Las Vegas. You are unaware of this debt because he hid it from you. You and your children gained nothing from this debt. Because you gained nothing and had no knowledge of the spending, the court has the power to place this burden fully on the husband so that you do not share his debt.
The discovery process is critical in preparing your case. It gives you the information and the time to position yourself for a fair division of debt – one that’s in your favor. Remember, fair does not have to mean an equal split. Ironically, the debt you are responsible for after a divorce is called the debt you are awarded. To minimize your debt responsibilities, get copies of all credit card statements and examine them thoroughly. If necessary, prepare reasons why you shouldn’t be responsible for certain debts.
Secured debts – a home mortgage or lines of credit, for example – are often ordered to be paid off by selling the asset. If you want to keep a home or other secured asset, then the debt that goes with it will probably be your responsibility. The court will consider this when making an alimony determination.
Pre-marital debts are the responsibility of the person who brought them into the marriage. In a Georgia divorce, each individual will be responsible for their pre-marital debt rather than it being divided. Keep good records so you can prove the timing of any pre-marital debts as clearly yours or your spouse’s.
Certain debts fall into a gray area. For example, you buy a boat before you get married. After you’re married, you and your spouse use the boat and take on more debt to improve it. Since you both enjoyed the boat while you were married, the court will decide how to fairly divide the related debts. The same concept applies to a home.
At Bivek Brubaker & Prescott, we’re well-versed in helping you navigate the process of debt division during your Georgia divorce. We’ll help you avoid debts that shouldn’t be your responsibility. You will work with one of our highly qualified partners, not a junior associate. We take the time during your consultation to answer your questions and advise you on your Marietta divorce. Please contact the Marietta family law attorneys or call 404-793-6530 to speak with us.