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If there’s anything more infuriating than handing your ex some of your hard-earned cash, or family heirlooms, it’s gotta be paying off your spouse’s debt. The Utah divorce debt laws can be ambiguous. Depending on your circumstances, you could very well be stuck paying off your wife’s in-store Cabela’s credit card. Since marital debt, alimony, and child support orders are all evaluated differently, you could end up being burdened with a gigantic amount of debt. If you’re concerned about assuming responsibility for your husband’s in-store Sephora credit card, we may have answers for you.

How It Normally Works

Because of Utah divorce debt laws, marital debt can be split in rather unpredictable ways. Since Utah isn’t a community property state, debt isn’t necessarily split evenly between both parties. Instead, the debt will almost always go where the asset goes. Meaning, if you get the car, you also assume the car loan burden. If you financed your couch, whoever gets the couch, gets the debt. If neither party wants the financed assets, you will need to sell them. If you owe more on the asset than the asset is worth, you will need to sell the asset and split the debt. However, the debt may not be split evenly. Because Utah is an equitable distribution state, the court will divide the assets and debt based on what they feel is fair for both parties. 


When You Can’t Afford Debt and Alimony

In Utah divorce courts, each issue is looked at separately. So, when a judge is deciding how much marital debt you’re responsible for, they are not considering what you’ve been ordered to pay in alimony, or what you’ve been ordered to pay in child support. If you are having trouble paying child support and alimony, on top of marital debt, you will have to appeal the court orders and prove that you cannot possibly pay it all. If you’re having trouble paying everything, you could attempt to negotiate with your spouse. You may decide to give your spouse assets worth your share of the debt in exchange for your spouse assuming the debt.

What Happens to the House?

The home is always a difficult issue. If you’re going through a divorce, you should put a lot of consideration into selling the home, especially if neither of you on your own can comfortably afford the payments on the home. If you choose to keep the house, you will most likely have to buy your spouse out of the house. This means you will have to pay them half of the equity in the house. If you owe more on the house than the house is currently worth, you will need to refinance the house in your name and then assume the larger debt. Many couples therefore decide to sell the house and split the sale amount; this way, both parties can start fresh and not deal with the memories of the house.

What about Premarital Debt?

Premarital debt typically goes to whoever brought the debt into the marriage. So, if you’ve accumulated student loans before you were married, you will almost certainly be responsible for those loans after you’re divorced. If you brought a car into the marriage, and then paid it off during the marriage, you would most likely end up paying your spouse half of what you paid on the car during the marriage.

When You Need Help Dividing up Debt

Dividing up marital debt can be tricky. Depending on what kind of debts you and your spouse have, you may have to hire a family law attorney who can give you a more realistic picture of what you can expect when dividing up debt. At CoilLaw, our attorneys are experts in family law. Our office is conveniently located in Sandy, just a short drive from Salt Lake City. If you need help dividing up marital debts, CoilLaw is just a phone call away. 


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