The marital estate that belongs to both you and your spouse does not just consist of your joint bank account and your marital home. Your marital or community property includes essentially every asset that you acquired during the marriage or by using marital income. However, some aspects of marital property confuse those considering divorce.
You might not know the debt that you take on during your marriage are also part of your marital estate. Your car loans, your student loans and your credit cards could all potentially be subject to division depending on whether you have a marital agreement with your spouse and when you took on those debts.
Although you may think they have nothing to do with you because your name is not the account, that isn’t the most important consideration when dividing marital debts. What happens to your financial obligations when you divorce?
You can agree on how to share them
As with your marital property, the two of you have the right to make your own arrangements regarding your marital debts.
You can agree to pay the debts off as part of the refinancing process when you transfer the home. The spouse who makes more money could take credit card debt, or the two of you could split the accounts evenly. If the two of you are able to cooperate, you can establish whatever terms you believe would be fair and reasonable.
What if you go to court?
The community property laws in Louisiana will apply to debts accrued during your marriage just like it applies to the property you bought together in the income either of you earned. You may have to help pay off a credit card balance on a card used solely by your spouse if they used that account to help support the household.
A judge may consider differences in your income or in your separate property when deciding the best solution for your marital assets in your upcoming divorce. In cases where people take on the debt maliciously or engage in financial infidelity by lying to their spouse about their debt or spending habits, a judge may exclude certain debts from the marital estate.
Thinking about the issues that will have the most impact on your financial future will help you prepare for divorce negotiations or litigation in Louisiana family court.