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Wheaton debt division attorneyDid you know that the average amount of personal debt for Americans aged 40-55 is over $135,000? Whether through a home mortgage, personal loans, credit cards, or student loans, most people have at least some debts. If you are planning to get a divorce, you may be wondering how debt will be handled. Typically, marital debt is handled similarly to marital property during an Illinois divorce, but each case is different.  

Illinois Laws Regarding Marital Debt

In many marriages, one spouse is more of a spendthrift than the other. Often, differences in spending habits and financial goals are one of the issues that lead to divorce. If your spouse has accumulated a considerable amount of debt, you may wonder if you will be expected to repay it after divorce. You may also wonder if your spouse will be on the hook for debts that you have acquired.

Illinois courts divide marital property according to a legal doctrine called equitable distribution. Property and debts are divided fairly but not always evenly. Marital property and debts, meaning property and debts obtained during the marriage, are divided between spouses. Non-marital property, which includes assets and debts acquired by a spouse before getting married, is assigned to the spouse who originally acquired it. However, in the majority of cases, the court does not decide the allocation of marital property and debts during divorce. The divorcing couple instead reaches an out-of-court settlement regarding property and debts through negotiation, mediation, or another dispute resolution method.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerWhether it is from medical bills, student loans, credit cards, or another source, most adults have debt. In fact, the average American is about $38,000 in debt. If your spouse has a high amount of debt, you may have questions about who is responsible for paying this debt after you get divorced. You may assume that any credit cards or loans that are in your spouse’s name will be his or her sole responsibility after you end the marriage. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are several different factors that influence how debt is divided in an Illinois divorce.

Debt is Divided Similarly to Property

Illinois is an equitable distribution state. Any property that was obtained during the marriage is considered part of the marital estate and is subject to division during divorce. Property that a spouse obtained before getting married is considered separate property and is not subject to division. Debt is handled in a similar way. Any debts that were acquired by either spouse during the marriage are generally considered to be marital debts shared by both spouses. Debts acquired before the spouses got married are typically considered separate and are assigned to the spouse who acquired the debt.

However, there are exceptions to these generalities. For example, if a spouse’s student loans led to a higher salary and therefore increased standard of living for both spouses, it is possible that both spouses would be responsible for repaying the loans. On the other hand, if a spouse’s gambling addiction accumulated significant debt, the other spouse may not be responsible for paying it off since the debt did not benefit both spouses.

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