How is Debt Divided in a Divorce in Tennessee

Getting divorced is not easy for anyone, even if the divorce is a mutual decision between parties. You may be afraid of what the future holds for you now that you are about to be single again, and your financial future may be at the forefront of your mind as well.

Many things have to be decided at this time, such as who will have custody of the children, how property will be distributed, and who will pay the bills that were racked up during the marriage. We’re going to talk about what will happen with your combined debts and give you a better understanding of what to expect. 

Debts Before the Marriage

If you wonder what will happen to debts you incurred before you got married, those still belong to you. If you came into the marriage owing a debt that hasn’t been paid off yet, you cannot hold your spouse responsible for them.

The only debt that will be decided in the divorce is a debt that occurred during the marriage. However, if you or your spouse incurred debt solely in your name during the marriage and not to support the family, you may have to pay this debt.

If either party has a credit card in their name that was used for purchasing household items or groceries, the balance can be divided between the spouses by the court. Courts will sometimes divide debts only in one person’s name and make both parties responsible for the debt.

Student Loan Debt

If one spouse took out a student loan before the marriage, the court would usually decide that the spouse who took out the loan is responsible for repaying it. This decision is because the student was single at the time, and there were no financial ties to their future spouse.

For student loans obtained during the marriage, it will depend on who benefited from the student loan. The court may decide that both parties are responsible for repaying the debt. If both parties benefited from the student loan by paying utility bills, housing bills, plus school funds, a court could say that it increases the standard of living of both parties involved and, therefore, it’s a marital debt.

There is also a possibility that if the student who took out the loan isn’t making enough money to repay the loan on their own, the court may decide that both should repay the debt. It might be the spouse that makes the most money which has to pay more for the debt than the one who took out the loan.

Hospital Bill Debt

Because Tennessee is an equitable division state, medical debt might be treated differently than other states. If the wife had previous medical bills before the marriage, she is responsible for her bills. If the husband is in physical therapy after the couple has separated, the husband owes the hospital bills.

Medical expenses incurred by the husband or wife during the marriage are the responsibility of both parties involved. The decision on who pays the medical bills is in conjunction with the equitable division rules of Tennessee. An example of a hospital bill that should be shared between parties will be if a mother incurs hospital bills for having a baby during the marriage. It is only fair in this case if both parties pay the debt.

If one or the other spouse breaks an arm or leg or needs any other type of medical treatment during the marriage, both spouses would likely be liable for each other’s medical bills, no matter who was injured.

Who Can You Call When You Can’t Decide?

Divorces get messy. You need an experienced divorce attorney who is an expert in family law—someone who will help you set realistic goals—someone that you trust.

Whether you’re filing for divorce or have been served divorce papers, you may feel like your world has come crashing down around you. It’s a very vulnerable and confusing place to be in, which is why you need the best legal counsel possible to navigate all the ins and outs of divorce law.

Attorney Hunter Fowler has provided legal services to many individuals in your exact situation and will work with you through every detail of your divorce proceedings to ensure the final outcome is what you want for yourself and your family. Contact Hunter Fowler today to get the legal counsel you deserve.