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How Debt is Divided during a Divorce in Illinois

Joint debt or marital debt are typically items such as auto loans, mortgage(s) and credit cards that which both parties are jointly responsible for. From a legal standpoint, this pertains to debts where both parties benefited from the asset or resource acquired from the loan (debt) acquired during the marriage.

The best and quickest way to deal with joint or marital debt during a divorce is to pay off the obligations. This is typically accomplished with the proceeds from the sale of the family home or with other available assets. Not only is this strategy the easiest, but there are several other advantages: certainty, protection/improvement of your credit record, and a fresh start.

Other Options for Dealing with Marital Debt

There are two more options for dealing with marital debt: Continue to share the debt, or divide the debts with each party takes sole responsibility for their own debts.

Continued Sharing of Debt

The main advantage to this method is that no money is required upfront to pay off the debts immediately. However, there is a risk to your credit score should the other party decide or not be able to pay off their share.

Divide the Debt Equally

This method typically requires more work but brings with it the added security of complete control. Taking charge of your own debts means that there is no chance of being liable for decisions made by your spouse after you separate for the most part. We put that clause at the end because there is still some precedent of creditors going after both parties if one party defaults on payments. This is especially true of credit cards.

Overall the most common and significantly more advantageous route is paying off the debt. This may not be easy, but this path leaves both parties with a clean slate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are you responsible for your spouse's debt in Illinois?

You may be responsible for your spouse’s debts. In a long-term marriage, the debt is more likely to be split equally between spouses. However, if the debt is from before the marriage and isn’t tied to marital property, it will probably stay with that person. It all depends on the specifics of your situation.

Is Illinois a shared debt state?

Illinois is not a 50/50 state, so the debt will be split based on what is fair, not down the middle. So, no, Illinois is not a shared debt state. But there are some debts that will be shared such as if spouses buy a house together.

Do divorced couples split debt?

Most often, divorcing couples divide the debt. Rather than splitting it evenly, parties divide the debt based on what makes sense. For example, if someone is keeping the house and there is still debt associated with it, they will probably keep that debt. Or if someone still has student loans, they will continue to be responsible for them.

How do I protect myself from my husband's debt?

To protect you from the other party’s debt, you want to establish yourself as separate from it. How to do this depends on how the debt is incurred.
For example, if the debts are student loans, you can easily prove who they are. The tricky part here is that the other party could argue that their education brought income to the marriage. But if the debts were credit card debts, then you can track who owned the card and what the purchases were made for.

How is credit card debt split in a divorce?

How credit card debt is split depends on what was purchased. If one party used credit cards to take fancy vacations by themself, then you just have to get evidence of that, and it will go to them. However, if the debt was incurred to pay for something the parties shared, then it will likely be split in half.

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