It’s All About The Benjamins: Dividing Debts in Divorce

In a divorce the court decides which spouse pays the various debts incurred during the marriage. Debt is money that one or both of you owe to another person or a company. It includes such things as:

  • credit card debt

  • student loans

  • home mortgage

  • car loans

  • medical bills

  • loans from friends or family

Under Minnesota law, debt is to be divided “equitably”; This does not always mean equally. The court looks at several factors when dividing debt:

  • Who incurred the debt?

  • Who benefited from it?

  • Was the debt made before the marriage, during the marriage while the parties were living together, or after the parties separated?

  • What are the parties’ incomes? Does one spouse have greater ability to pay than the other?

  • What are the parties’ assets and how do they relate to the debt? For example, if a spouse is awarded the car in the property division, they will likely be responsible for paying the car loan.

Generally, any student loan debt stays with the spouse that incurred the debt. If a portion of the student loan was used for joint living expenses, however, that part may be divided as marital debt.


Note: It is important to understand that even if the court decides that one spouse should pay a debt, both spouses could still be sued by the person or business the debt is owed to (the creditor). The creditor can take legal action against either spouse, regardless of who was ordered to pay. If your ex does not pay the debt they were ordered to pay in the divorce, you can take legal action against them.


To discuss division of debts, or any family law matter, call Kruse Family Law, PLLC at 612.231.9865, or email corwin@krusefamilylaw.com.






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