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How to Divide Debt in a Michigan Divorce

Everything must be divided when a marriage partnership ends. You may want more of some things, such as property and time with your children, and less of other things, such as debts.

Our Michigan family law attorneys are here to help you prepare for your future, which includes the equitable division of marital debt.

Marital Debt and Separate Debt

Generally, separate debt is debt that was incurred before marriage. Separate debt remains the financial responsibility of the person who incurred that debt and is typically not divided in a divorce.

Marital debt, however, may be divided during a Michigan divorce. Marital debt is debt that either or both spouses incurred during their marriage.

Division of Marital Debt

Michigan courts typically divide marital debt according to the same equitable distribution principle that applies to the division of marital assets. Equitable distribution means that debts should be divided fairly, but not necessarily equally.

The court may consider:

  • Each spouse’s ability to pay the debt. Specifically, the court may consider each spouse’s income and earning potential.
  • How the debt was incurred and for what reason. Mortgages, credit card debt, and other loans incurred by the spouses for their mutual benefit may be divided. However, if one spouse has significant gambling debts, the court may decide it is equitable for that spouse to remain solely responsible for paying that debt. Similarly, debt incurred to carry on an extramarital affair may be the sole responsibility of the spouse who had the affair.
  • Whether the debt should follow the property. For example, if one spouse gets the car in the divorce settlement, then that spouse may also get the car loan.


While your divorce agreement establishes a legal obligation for debt repayment, creditors may still have a claim against both spouses. This means an ex-spouse’s failure to pay a debt could impact your credit score.

Let Our Divorce Lawyers Help You Protect Your Financial Future

The division of marital debt is just one important factor in your Michigan divorce case. Our experienced and compassionate Bloomfield Hills divorce lawyers are here to guide you through the whole process. Please text, call or complete our contact form to learn more.

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