Many people have money concerns, including those who are thinking about divorce or separation. The topic of debt and finances is incredibly sensitive and can be difficult to discuss.

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Being in debt can be scary and overwhelming and will be heightened if you’re about to go through a divorce.

In this article, we’ll be discussing exactly what happens to debt in divorce, how it’s divided, and who is obliged to pay it back. 

Going through a divorce

Filing for divorce can be a difficult time for both you and your ex-partner. The breakdown of any relationship can cause heightened emotions and we understand how tough the process will feel. 

It’s important to keep conflict to a minimum to ensure any issues relating to the divorce proceedings run as smoothly as possible. It can be hard to separate your emotions between your relationship and the financial aspects of divorce, but high levels of conflict can result in a lengthier process. 

Having debt

If you currently feel as though you have a mountain of debt to tackle, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Studies found that in 2022, the ‘cost of living increase’ was the second most common reason for debt

When a couple decides to separate and they have shared individual debt, this needs to be accounted for in the financial settlement. You must understand who is responsible for the debt and whether it was accrued in the marriage or not. 

Matrimonial debt refers to money used for something to benefit the couple or family, whether that’s buying a house or booking family holidays. If both partners benefit from the end product, it will be considered a joint debt. 

Individual debt involves one person building up debts for their sole enjoyment and purpose. In some instances, one person may bring debt into a marriage and will remain responsible for this non-matrimonial debt. 

How is debt divided during divorce?

All debt gets taken into account in the financial proceedings of divorce and will be removed from the overall matrimonial pot. This refers to any joint assets, property, and pensions. 

If debts are in joint names, you and your ex-partner will both be liable for repaying these. If, for some reason, your ex-partner is unable to pay, you will be liable to pay the entire debt. 

Who pays the debt?

The court is unable to force one person to pay a debt or transfer the debt to another person. However, it does have the power to order maintenance payments to be made to help one person pay off any outstanding debt. 

If you are worried about your finances during divorce, you could seek the help of specialist financial settlement solicitors. This is recommended as they can support you through the process and handle your case with empathy and care.