When a couple gets divorced in California, all marital debts must be divided just like marital assets. Because California is a community property state, both spouses will be responsible for debts that were acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Debts that are eligible for division in a divorce might include credit card balances, unpaid medical expenses and home mortgages.
Divorcing couples that had joint credit card accounts while they were married will have to divide the debt on the accounts regardless of which spouse made more purchases with the credit cards. However, separate credit card accounts will be the sole responsibility of the account holder. In California, medical debts acquired during the marriage will in most cases be divided between both spouses even if one spouse had no part in incurring the expense.
Dividing debt can be more complicated when taking into account the family home mortgage. A judge will often award the marital home to the spouse who will have custody of the children. If there are no children, a judge may award the house to the spouse who earns a bigger income. Usually, one of the spouses must buy out the other spouse’s share of the home equity. In some circumstances, the property division order will take into account the burden that the mortgage will create for the party staying in the home.
A person who is going through a divorce that involves the division of a lot of debt may want to have representation from a family law attorney. In some cases, the attorney can suggest during the negotiation process a settlement agreement that will attempt to roughly balance the amount of assets and debts that each party will receive.