If you and your spouse have significant assets, it is possible that you have significant debts as well. Some of your debts, like your mortgage or vehicle loans, are likely shared. As you divide your property in your divorce, whichever of you receives your home or vehicles will likely pay these off.
Yet, your spouse might have racked up excessive debt on their own, and you may have concerns that you will end up footing the bill. By understanding how Texas courts divide debt, you can do your best to avoid shouldering this burden.
How divorcing couples divide debt in Texas
Because Texas is a community property state, you may assume that you and your spouse will split your marital debts evenly between you. While this could happen, the court will divide them in a manner it deems just and right. In reviewing your marital debts, it will consider which of you took them on, when you took them on and for what purpose. Based on this information, the court may use its discretion to adjust your responsibility for them.
You or your spouse may also have individual debts that you incurred before your marriage. Unlike your marital debts, these will remain indivisible during your divorce.
Protecting yourself from your spouse’s debt
Even if the court orders your spouse to repay their share of marital debt, you will want to know whether the burden could fall on you if they default. If your spouse, during your marriage, incurred debts on an individual credit card or signed for them on their own, it is unlikely that this is the case. Yet, your spouse may have racked up significant debt on a joint credit card. If they fail to repay it, you may shoulder responsibility for it, since your name is on the account. Furthermore, your spouse may receive your home or a shared vehicle in your divorce, neither of which may be paid off. If they default on these payments, you may be responsible for them, too, since you two likely co-signed your mortgage and auto loan.
If your spouse’s debt could complicate your divorce proceedings, you will want to consult a family law attorney. With their help, you can work to minimize its impact.