How are debts divided in a divorce?

When you file for divorce in California, you won’t just split up your assets — you’ll also split up your debts. Most debts that you accrued during your marriage are considered marital debts. You’ll also have to figure out how to split up car payments, mortgages and other major debts that most married couples accumulate in their lifetimes.

How do you split up your debts?

Since California is a community property state, you’ll have to split all your debts and assets equally with your spouse. This means that you might have to take on part of your spouse’s medical debts after your divorce. Likewise, your spouse might have to pay a percentage of any medical debts on your record.

You might also have to split up your credit card debts, especially if you took out a joint line of credit. Even if your spouse was the one paying off the debts, you might get stuck with a portion of their loan. Similarly, you might both be responsible for car payments if you applied for a joint loan. You might have to refinance the loan or sell the vehicle altogether if you can’t keep up with the payments.

To divide up your house, your divorce attorney might recommend selling the property and splitting up the profits. This frees you from worrying about refinancing the mortgage or dividing up the debt. If you want to keep your house, you might have to get your spouse’s name taken off the debt. Otherwise, your spouse might still be on the hook for the mortgage — and they probably won’t want to continue making payments.

What else do you have to divide?

In a community property state like California, you have to divide everything that you earned during your marriage in a 50/50 split. There are some exceptions, like gifts and inheritances, but you’ll have to divide nearly everything else. Your attorney could tell you which assets you have to share with your former spouse. They could also tell you if you’re entitled to your former spouse’s assets, and if so, how much you can claim.