In California divorces, people are often at odds over property division. A common point of contention is debt accrued after the separation. In some divorces, this happened as an intentional attempt to make life difficult for the other person. In others, it was circumstantial. Regardless, it is important to understand what the law says about this type of debt and how to address it as part of the case.
Dividing debts between the time of separation and the dissolution
When a couple separates and before the marriage is dissolved, the court will categorize debts based on whether they are necessities of life or non-necessities of life. For example, if the debt was for normal household expenses, to repair an automobile or for a child’s needs, it would be considered a necessity. A person who is getting support could reasonably ask the other party to pay for all or some of the debt.
By contrast, courts won’t offset the purchase of a non-essential item and the sides are not obligated to split the expense. The person who made the purchase is responsible for that debt.
If one side is paying support and the purchases were for the fundamental necessities of the other person or children from the marriage, then they will either be solely responsible for the debt or will share it. If a person bought a new automobile as a choice rather than as a need, then this will generally be their debt.
For debt division after legal separation, having legal advice is essential
Property division is usually centered on items that people owned before the marriage or acquired after the marriage. However, debt can also lead to discord especially if it came about after the separation. People who are separating or planning a divorce will often be worried about joint bank accounts, credit cards, properties that were co-owned and more.
People going through divorce are reasonably afraid they will be on the hook for a debt created by their ex. The law accounts for that based on the purchase itself and whether it was a need or not. For this and other areas of family law, it is important to have help with navigating the process and ensuring there is a fair resolution.