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Dividing debt in a North Dakota divorce

On Behalf of | Aug 13, 2023 | Family Law

The division of assets is generally considered one of the primary areas of focus for divorcing couples. For many couples, however, the division of debt may be of greater concern. Debt, like assets, is typically considered either individual or joint (marital). Student loans are usually individual debts, for example. The mortgage and other loans as well as credit cards are typically joint debt. It’s not unusual for a married couple to accumulate many thousands of dollars of debt over the years.

It’s crucial to work to ensure that you aren’t saddled with an unfair amount of that marital debt as you and your spouse end your marriage. It’s just as important to make sure there are safeguards in place to require your soon-to-be ex to pay the portion that’s assigned to them.

How is marital debt divided?

North Dakota is an equitable distribution state. That means assets and debt are divided in a fair and equitable manner based on each spouse’s resources and circumstances. It may or may not be a 50-50 division. Couples can negotiate their own debt division agreement, with the assistance of their legal counsel. However, the judge that has to approve the agreement will likely only do so if it’s fair to both people. 

You may need to modify loan or credit card agreements

Often, it’s cleaner if each spouse is assigned responsibility to paying off specific debts. For example, your spouse may be required to pay off the Visa card. If your name remains on that card, however, the issuer can demand payment from you if they fail to make payments. 

These companies don’t recognize divorce agreements. They only care who is on the card or loan agreement. You could take your spouse to court for failing to abide by the agreement signed in the divorce. In the meantime, you’re still going to be hearing from the card issuer or lender and likely see your credit rating take a hit.

Debts like your mortgage and any home equity loan or line of credit will be dealt with as you determine what to do with your home. You don’t, however, want your name to remain on those if your spouse keeps the home. 

This is just a brief overview of debt considerations as you divorce. Everyone’s situation is unique. With sound legal guidance, you can protect your credit rating and your financial future as you and your spouse disentangle your debts.


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