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Wheaton divorce lawyersDebt is a serious issue for most Americans. According to a recent study from Northwestern Mutual, the average U.S. citizen has about $38,000 in personal debt - and that excludes their mortgage. If one were to double that for a married couple (almost $80,000 in debt), the importance of understanding how debt is divided in a divorce becomes clear. 

Equitable Distribution of Debt in Divorce

In most cases, marital debt is divided in a divorce in the same way as assets: equitably. Essentially, this means debts are allocated according to the income and expense of each party. Keep in mind that this rule usually only applies to joint, marital debts that were acquired during the union. Separate debts that parties acquired prior to the marriage, as well as sole-owned debts, may not be divided in the same manner. 

Legal Liability for Debt in Divorce

Regardless of who the debt is assigned to in the divorce, parties can still be held legally responsible for a debt if their name is on the account. Keep this in mind when a portion of marital debt is assigned to your spouse, and have a plan in place for handling a default on the account, should your spouse forget or fail to pay. Otherwise, you may rack up late fees or interest on your account, leaving you with unnecessary added expenses. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersBills and other financial obligations do not end just because you are filing for a divorce. In fact, money management is usually more difficult while trying to navigate the divorce process because there are more bills and less money to go around.

Thankfully, there are measures that one can take to improve their financial situation, even while pursuing a divorce. Learn more in the following sections, and discover how our seasoned divorce lawyers can assist. 

Track Your Finances and Develop a New Budget

The first step to improving your financial situation is to understand your finances. Start by tracking how and where you spend your money, then determine if any of your expenses can be eliminated or temporarily suspended. Doing this can give you more in the way of liquid assets. It also allows you to develop a new budget so that you can start saving for your new future. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysCouples usually anticipate a division and distribution of their assets during the divorce process, but many are surprised to learn that their debts are also split during the proceedings. Unfortunately, when parties are not prepared for the allocation of their debts, it can create serious financial issues, both immediately and in the distant future. Learn how you can avoid such an issue during your Illinois divorce, and discover how our seasoned attorneys can help. 

Who Owns the Debt in an Illinois Divorce? 

In marriage, debts and assets can become intrinsically intertwined; untangling them can be difficult, to say the least. Yet, it is critical that divorcing parties have a clear understanding of their debts. Additionally, parties are encouraged to try and distinguish which debts were initiated by them or their spouse, and which were co-marital debts. 

Not sure how to decide? 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysGoing through a divorce will likely have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of your life. This is especially true when it comes to your finances. For most people, a divorce is not only going to take two combined incomes and split them up, but it will also change what financial responsibilities you have.

You may, for example, have to start paying child support or spousal support, which will obviously have to be added into your monthly budget. Even if you are receiving child support or spousal support payments, however, you will need to use that money to cover many new expenses caused by the divorce. The following four tips can help you to put yourself in as strong of a position as possible after your divorce is finalized. 

1. Start a Strict Budget Now

Living on a budget is always important, but during and just after a divorce, it is more critical than ever. Do everything you can to minimize your expenses now, and live well under your means. Once the divorce is finalized and you are able to accurately see all your new income and expenses, you can start transitioning into your ‘new normal’ for money. It is much easier to have a little extra money in your budget after a divorce than it would be to be short each month. 

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Wheaton divorce attorneysWhile few couples blame money for their divorce, studies show money troubles can significantly increase a couple’s risk of divorce. In fact, arguments about money were found to be the top predictor of divorce in one from Utah State University. Researchers also determined that frequent fighting increased a couple’s overall odds of divorce by 30 percent. 

Of course, not all debt is acquired during the marriage. 

In a Fidelity, Couples & Money study, almost half of all the couples surveyed indicated they had entered into their marriage with debt. Around 40 percent of them said that it had a negative effect on their marriage, and 49 percent said they disagreed about who was responsible for those debts. 

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DuPage County divorce attorneysWhen divorcing couples think about the process ahead, they tend to focus on the division of their assets. However, it is important to understand that marital debt is usually factored into the divorce settlement as well. Learn more about divorcing with joint debt, and discover what a seasoned divorce attorney can do to improve the outcome of your case and future financial standing. 

How Debt is Divided During an Illinois Divorce 

Debt is handled a lot like assets in a divorce; parties report any debts that they have and they decide whom will be responsible for it. Some negotiate this matter, while others have their debts and assets divided by a judge. In either case, the balance of the debt is usually deducted from the settlement amount. The assumed “owner” of the debt is then responsible for paying it back. Unfortunately, if the spouse that is responsible for the debt defaults, creditors may start looking at the other party to collect any remaining balance. 

Divorce and Your Creditors 

A lot of couples assume that they can resolve debt issues by simply provide their creditors with a copy of their divorce decree. Sadly, this is rarely ever the case. Creditors do not concern themselves with the life details of their debtors. Their only objective is to recover the money that they have loaned, and since they are not required to honor any agreements that are made between you and your spouse during a divorce, they will likely turn to you if your spouse defaults on their payments, disappears, or files bankruptcy after the divorce. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyersDuring an Illinois divorce, a couple’s marital estate is totaled and then divided according to the law. In that marital estate is not just a couple’s assets and income; debt is factored in as well. Unfortunately, this can be especially problematic in a divorce - and not just because it can affect the amount of one’s settlement. 

Couples might have different values when it comes to money and debt, and one party may have contributed more to the couple’s debt load than the other. Alternatively, one party may have less of an ability to repay the debts because they have a fixed or limited earning ability. Whatever the situation, parties are encouraged to educate themselves on dealing with debt in a divorce, and that includes learning how to go about deciding who should pay for the couple’s credit card debts. 

Making the Decision Through Negotiation 

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DuPage County divorce lawyersAlthough most people are aware that assets are equitably split during an Illinois divorce, few couples stop to think about their debts. However, this too is divided – and it can lead to financial ruin for one or both parties if mishandled. Learn how you can protect your finances during a divorce, and discover how paying off your credit card debt may ease the overall process. You shall also learn what an experienced attorney can do for you.

What No One Tells You About Debt in Divorce

The real problem with debt in divorce is not that it is divided. Instead, it is that the original debtor is still held accountable, regardless of the decree. For example, one party may agree to pay on a joint credit card, but if that party defaults on their payments, both may face legal action from the creditor. The same holds true for other forms of debt, such as student loans, vehicle leases, and mortgages.

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