The Division of Debt Is an Important Component of Your Houston Divorce
If you are facing divorce in Texas, you are undoubtedly stressed and there is a good chance that you are unsure about how best to proceed. Cut yourself some slack, and remember that – no matter how you’re holding up – you’re not alone. Every divorce is difficult, and every divorce is as unique as the two individuals involved; you need an experienced Houston divorce attorney to help protect your interests. Other than child custody and visitation issues, the division of financial assets is typically the most emotionally fraught issue in any divorce in Texas. The distribution of marital debt is an important component of this division of finances.
Texas Takes a Unique Approach to the Division of Debt
The great State of Texas likes to go its own way a little bit, and this stands true when it comes to the division of debt in a divorce. While some states take a direct approach that simply divides the debt amassed during a marriage between the spouses, Texas courts look at each marriage’s unique circumstances individually. This means that the court considers the debts themselves – and their sources. It’s important to remember that any debt you are allotted in your divorce settlement can play an important role in the financial outcome of your Houston divorce.
Texas, along with eight other states, is a community property jurisdiction. In brief, this means that most assets that a couple acquires during marriage are owned equally by each spouse. Notable exceptions to this rule include assets that were owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, gifts to one spouse, and assets that are inherited by one spouse. Marital debt is closely intertwined with marital assets, and as such, can greatly affect the outcome of a divorce. Property division in a Texas Divorce can be complex.
Debt and Your Divorce
Debt is most likely to play an important role in your divorce if you own a business or multiple properties together or if your finances are generally more complicated. If one or both of you entered the marriage with significant debt, it may ultimately be considered community property. Again, Texas courts are looking for what they consider an equitable distribution of debt – and not for a 50-50 division of that debt. A skilled family law attorney with experience in equitable debt division will fight to help ensure that you get the financial settlement you are entitled to.
The Division of Debts
In the course of your Texas divorce, the court will consider your marital debt as a whole and will determine which, if any, specific debts are solely attributable to only one of you. If such a determination is made, that specific debt will be assigned solely to that spouse in the divorce settlement. In a Texas divorce, marital debt isn’t simply taken at face value but is, instead, carefully considered in relation to a few key questions that help the court make its determinations related to whom the debt belongs to:
• Which spouse initially incurred the debt in question?
• Why was the debt originally incurred?
• When was the debt originally incurred?
The answers to these critical questions will help guide the court’s decisions.
Shared Debt in Divorce
Even in Texas, some debts are routinely considered shared debts. Typically, these include debts that were taken on to run your shared household. When the money you owe was used to feed, shelter, clothe, and generally support your family, the debt is considered a shared debt for divorce purposes. But as with so many things in a Texas divorce, there are gray areas. For example, even if you take out a credit card in your name alone but use the line of credit to support your household, the debt will likely be shared between both you and your spouse in your divorce settlement. If, on the other hand, you take out a credit card in your own name for the sole purpose of purchasing luxury items for yourself, it’s likely a different story. Few things in life – or divorce for that matter – are this black and white, and the court will use its considerable discretion in determination of debt responsibility.
The Discretion of the Court
Texas judges have considerable discretion when it comes to the division of debt in a Houston divorce. In fact, the allotment of marital debt in the divorce proceedings is often more complicated than the division of assets. Ultimately, Texas courts aim to divide marital debt in a way they deem equitable and fair. This determination, as discussed, is far from straightforward, however, and you need an experienced Houston family law attorney to help protect your rights.
The Presumption of Shared Liability
In general, the court will take the approach of considering your marital debt as shared debt – until it’s proven otherwise. This means, you may have to build a defense that illustrates why you aren’t responsible for your soon-to-be-ex’s debt. In other words, it’s complicated. And the more complicated your finances, the more complicated it gets. Paying careful attention to the debt in your divorce can help ensure that you get a truly equitable divorce settlement.
Even if the court assigns specific hefty debts to your ex in the divorce, this does not mean that the debtor involved won’t seek you out if the debt goes unpaid (and if your name is connected to it). You don’t want your credit rating to hinge upon debt that you aren’t responsible for and that you have no way of controlling. An experienced Houston divorce attorney can help.
Discuss the Division of Your Marital Debt with an Experienced Houston Divorce lawyer
Divorce is always difficult, and the division of your marital debt may be the furthest thing from your mind. Such debt, however, can play a pivotal role in your financial situation once your divorce is finalized. For this reason, you need experienced legal guidance. The dedicated legal team at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, focuses exclusively on divorce and family law, and we’re here to help you. For a free initial consultation, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.