Much like acquiring joint assets, accumulating marital debt is typically very common for Illinois couples. However, filing for divorce does not negate any legal obligation to repay the debt. Nevertheless, exactly who should pay what does become a serious concern. Addressed during division of property, debt must be divided between both parties before a judge can approve a divorce settlement.

A mortgage is a common concern for divorcing couples. If the couple chooses to sell the home and have both parties take up new residence there may be little to worry about, but often at least one individual wants to remain in the marital home. Most often, the person remaining in the home will have to refinance the mortgage or buy their soon-to-be ex out, taking on the sole responsibility of paying back the mortgage.

Debt from credit cards is typically much simpler to divvy up, and it often falls to what type of account a card was listed under. If an account was completely separate with only one party listed on it and no other authorized user, it is likely that he or she will be responsible for the debt. However, debt from a card that has both parties on the account or has one or the other as an authorized user will usually be split between the two. Like assets, it may not matter if one party never actually used the card or made any payments as it is seen as marital property. 

Debt and financial stability is a real and understandable concern for divorcing couples in Illinois, although it does not have to be a deterrent from taking action. Whether an acceptable divorce agreement is reached through alternative dispute resolution — such as mediation — or by proceeding to court, most individuals can be well assured that fair settlements typically do not unfairly burden one party with more of the debt than necessary. By working alongside their respective counsels and staying informed and up-to-date on financial situations during the divorce process, most couples find that the final division of property is fair and accurate.

Source:, “What Happens to My Debt If I Get a Divorce?”, Leslie Tayne, June 23, 2015