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What does a divorce in a community property state mean for debt?

When a couple in Louisiana decides to divorce, there are several issues that need to be addressed. One issue that can make starting a new life after divorce complicated is property division. Louisiana is a "community property state." This means that when a couple divorces, all marital property will be divided in an even 50/50 split.

Essentially, this means that property division in Louisiana entails the equal splitting of assets, accounts, property -- and debt. If spouses held a joint account, and one spouse racked up huge amounts of credit card debt, the other spouse could be liable for that debt incurred during the marriage. However, there are circumstances that can prompt a family law judge to distribute assets and liabilities in a manner that is not equal.

For example, if one spouse was deceitful with finances and secretly amassing large amounts of debt at their leisure, a judge could take this into consideration when assigning debt liabilities to each spouse. There are other circumstances which could prompt a court to divide marital property in favor of one spouse over the other. A few other situations in which property division in Louisiana may not be awarded 50/50 include:

  • Instances of adultery or abuse
  • Instances in which one spouse is chronically ill
  • Instances where one spouse will be the primary caretaker of minor children
  • Instances in which one spouse has a lower earning capacity

Of course, a prenuptial agreement can also mean that property is not divided 50/50 in a Louisiana divorce. Whenever an individual in Louisiana is divorcing, it is imperative to retain a skilled divorce attorney that will ensure that an individual does not have their rights violated and they are not cheated out of their just property award.

The terms of property division can really set the tone regarding how the individual will move forward following a divorce. Being burden with crippling amounts of debt from an ex is not the ideal way to begin a happier life.

Source: Fox business, "Is Wife Liable for Ex's Card Debt?" Sally Herigstad, May 7, 2013

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