Your Ex Ran Up Debt Behind Your Back

Goldberg Jones Divorce, Finances Leave a Comment

For most, the process of going through a divorce is emotionally draining. The added stress of dividing finances puts even more strain on an already difficult time. When going through a divorce you’re going to hear the words division of property, assets, and debt frequently. This often makes the future feel like a giant, murky question mark.

In some unfortunate instances during the discovery process, spouses uncover secret debt that accrued by the other party without their knowledge. We want to clear up what it means when a spouse accumulates debt behind the other’s back.

Related Reading: 8 Signs She May Be Hiding Assets

Debt and Community Property

First of all, the State of Washington is a community property state. This means the court presumes all property and all debt amassed during the course of a marriage, including the income of both spouses, is “community property,” or that it belongs to both spouses.

So what does this mean in the context of debt you didn’t know about?

What if your spouse ran up credit card bills or took out a loan without your knowledge? How does that impact the divorce process?

When it comes to dividing debt there are some circumstances where things become a bit more malleable. Washington divides debt the same way as assets. The court will make what they believe to be a “just and equitable” division of both. They view debt accrued during a marriage as the responsibility of both parties.

Related Reading: How the Division of Property Works in Washington

Other Possibilities

Yet, if debts were kept secret, and incurred entirely or partly by one party and not for the benefit of the marital community, the court may consider it separate debt. In this case, they may assign it entirely to the party that amassed it. 

Though possible, that’s not always the case.

Remember the court ultimately determines how to divide things. It also has the authority to determine whether or not an obligation is separate or community property. They can then award the debt to either party, regardless of whose name it’s in.

If you believe your spouse accrued secret debt, or recently discovered obligations you didn’t know about, know that you do have options. Divorce has a major impact on your financial future. Don’t start out the next chapter of your life hampered by debt. 

A lot depends on the specifics of your case and it’s in your best interest to talk to a divorce attorney. Consulting with an experienced professional can help ensure your assets and debts are divided properly.

If you have further questions, we offer free consultations over the phone. All you have to do is call Goldberg Jones at our Seattle office at (206) 448-1010.

Related Reading: Rebuilding Finances After Divorce

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