When most people think of property division in divorce, they think of the division of money and physical assets, such as a home, vehicle or valuables. Many do not consider familial debt. Yet, debt does not disappear just because two people decide to part ways, and one or both parties needs to maintain responsibility for it. If you and your spouse decide to follow through with a divorce in Georgia, you may wonder who will assume liability for your debt, and how the judge decides whom to stick with the commitment.

Georgia is an equitable distribution state, which means a judge must strive to divide property equitably, or fairly, and not necessarily equally in a divorce. This differs from community property states in which judges split property 50/50 between two divorcing parties. PocketSense outlines the three main factors a divorce court will consider when determining the fairest way to allocate debt.

One of the first factors a judge will consider is residency. For Georgia law to apply to you and your spouse, you must both have signed a loan agreement as residents of the state. If either of you are non-residents, the distribution of your debt is subject to the laws of whatever state in which you claim residency.

Another factor the courts will consider is the signatory. If both you and your spouse signed on to incur debt, the judge will likely split the debt equally between the two of you. However, if only one spouse signed the loan, that spouse is solely responsible for repayment. It is important to note that even if a judge deems both you and your spouse liable for a debt, it is still possible for one or both of you to default on payments. Default on either party’s behalf will affect the credit of both parties.

If bankruptcy is an issue, the filing will only affect both you and your spouse if you file together. Otherwise, the filing party bears the consequences of the filing alone.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.