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Debt and Divorce: Will I Be Stuck with My Ex-Spouse’s Poor Decisions?

 Posted on October 29, 2021 in Family Law

Waukesha debt division lawyersEven when a divorce is necessary, it is still difficult. Both parties are generally invested in protecting their interests and are likely to be entrenched in their positions.

Although divorce is framed as a fight to retain property and assets, sometimes it is about the things you do not want to keep. A prime example is your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s debt. The thought of being responsible for their poor financial decision making is frustrating and infuriating.

In Wisconsin, the Marital Property Act delegates responsibility for debt incurred by either spouse during marriage. Under the Act, all debt occurred during the marriage is considered jointly shared. The reasoning here is that the debt, even if financed by just one of the spouse’s, is for the benefit of the marriage. For example, if the husband buys a house during the marriage, the wife could still be liable post-divorce, even if only the husband’s name is on the title and mortgage.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Debt is not considered shared if it was incurred:

  • Prior to the marriage
  • In support of a child or spouse of another marriage
  • As the result of a tort committed by one of the spouses

How Is Marital Debt Satisfied?

The Wisconsin courts can use either jointly or individually held property to satisfy marital debt. Even if the property was acquired by one of the spouses prior to the marriage, the courts can use it as means of paying down debt incurred by the other spouse.

For example, if the wife inherited property prior to the marriage, the judge could conscript this property as a means of paying down the husband’s credit card debt.

Contact a Waukesha County Family Lawyer

Divorce is never easy, no matter the circumstances. It is a grueling process, emotionally and financially. A lot is usually at stake, including property, wealth, and child custody.

Considering the circumstances, having an experienced family lawyer by your side is critical. They can guide you through the process, crafting a legal strategy that protects your interests and creates the opportunity for a fresh start.

The lawyers at Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP have dedicated their careers to helping Wisconsin residents navigate this difficult time in their lives. They put their decades of experience to use fighting for regular people. If you need a Waukesha County family lawyer, call Bucher, Wolff & Sonderhouse, LLP today at 262-232-6699 to set up a free initial consultation.



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