People often focus on what assets they will acquire during divorce while ignoring a similar and equally important issue that involves their marital debt. Just as the courts have the authority to order you to divide your assets with your spouse during a divorce, so, too, can they potentially order the division of your debts.
In some cases, that could mean that one spouse winds up paying for part of the other’s student loan debt or other personal debt. Understanding how community property laws guide the division of debt in a Texas divorce can help you understand how the courts will likely approach the issue.
Community property means that you jointly share in assets and debts
As a community property state, Texas generally expects spouses to share their assets and income and help one another manage their debt. The courts will typically consider all assets and debts acquired during a marriage to be community property subject to division in the divorce proceedings.
Even if your name isn’t on the account, the courts may still order you to help pay off the balance if your ex accrued that balance during your marriage and the purchases they made helped to support your family. You could also have an obligation to help repay the student loan that your spouse incurred if they took on that debt with the intention of helping contribute more to the family after completing their education.
Scenarios in which the courts may not divide the debt
There are certain kinds of debt that the courts typically won’t divide between spouses in the event of a divorce. Any debt that you or your spouse carried prior to marriage, unless you refinance the debt during the marriage, will likely remain the separate property of the person who took the debt on initially.
If either spouse can make a claim of dissipation against the other, meaning that they intentionally accrued debt as a way to diminish the value of the marital estate, that could also influence how the courts separate debt in the divorce. Debts intentionally created to punish the other spouse or diminish the marital estate may not wind up included in the division process and could remain the sole property of the person who accrued the debt initially.