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How do Wisconsin courts split debt during divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2022 | Firm News

Divorcing couples must answer a number of legal questions when ending their marriage. These range from who gets the family house to how to split retirement assets. Another important consideration when splitting assets is the impact of debt. Who is responsible for the debt? Does it get split, or can the court demand the person who accumulated the debt take on the responsibility of repayment?

The answers often hinge on a number of related questions, including the timing of the debt.

The basics of Wisconsin divorce law

To navigate this issue it helps to have a basic understanding of how state law works. Wisconsin is a community property state, which basically means it allows the courts to divide marital assets and debts in a fair manner. It is important to note that a fair split does not always translate to an equal division.

When making its decision the courts will consider a variety of factors including the length of the marriage and the property brought into the marriage by each party, the age and health of each party as well as the earning capacity of each and the contribution of either party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other.

The impact on debt

When it comes to debt, the courts often view any debts accumulated during the marriage as marital debt. This means it is generally the responsibility of both parties, but there are some exceptions to this rule.

In some situations a party may argue that courts should keep debts from before the marriage separate. A common example is that of student loans. If an individual took out the loan prior to the marriage it is possible that the other party could build a successful case to keep the debt the responsibility of the party who took it out instead of having the court split it as marital debt during the divorce.

It is important to review each situation with the facts of the case and applicable law. A legal professional can discuss your options and help to better ensure your interests are protected throughout the divorce process. This can increase the odds that your transition into post-divorce life goes as smoothly as possible.