Dividing Debt in a Kansas Divorce
Dec. 14, 2023
In a divorce, one of the most contentious issues can be dividing the marital debt. This is because it's not just about splitting assets; it's also about dividing the liabilities. The laws in Kansas regarding debt division are specific and require careful navigation. Understanding these laws can make a significant difference in your financial stability post-divorce.
At Rundberg Law, LLC, I realize how overwhelming this process can be. You're not just dealing with the emotional fallout of a marriage ending, but also the practicalities of untangling your shared financial life. That's why I'm here to help guide you through this difficult time, providing the information you need to make informed decisions about your financial future. If you are in the Overland Park, Kansas, area, including Johnson County, reach out to me today for support. I am here for you.
Marital Property vs Separate Property in Kansas
In Kansas, understanding the distinction between marital and separate property is crucial when it comes to debt division in a divorce. Let's delve into these two categories to provide clarity on how assets and debts may be divided, and what this could mean for your individual situation.
In Kansas, marital property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage. This means anything you or your spouse earned or bought while married, from your home to your vehicles to your joint bank accounts. Even debts, like credit card balances or loans taken out during the marriage, are considered marital property. It's crucial to understand that under Kansas law, marital property is subject to equitable distribution — meaning it should be divided fairly, not necessarily equally.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to assets and debts that were owned by one spouse before the marriage or acquired during the marriage through inheritance or gifts. This could include pre-marital assets, personal gifts, or debts incurred solely by one spouse before the marriage. Typically, separate property is not subject to division in a divorce.
How Debt Is Divided
When it comes to dividing debt in a Kansas divorce, the courts follow the principle of equitable distribution. This means taking into account various factors such as each spouse's financial situation, their contribution to the debt, and more. It's important to remember that equitable doesn't necessarily mean equal — the division will be fair but not always 50/50.
Date of Separation
The date of separation is a significant factor in dividing debt. Debts incurred after the date of separation are generally considered the separate debt of the spouse who took them on. However, if one spouse incurs debt after separation for the benefit of the marital estate (like necessary living expenses or child-related costs), the court may still consider it marital debt.
The Role of Prenuptial Agreements in Debt Division
Prenuptial agreements, often referred to as "prenups", are legal documents that outline how assets and debts are to be divided between spouses in the event of a divorce. In Kansas, these agreements can play a significant role in the division of debt. If you and your spouse signed a prenuptial agreement, it could protect one party from responsibility for the other's pre-existing debts or even debts incurred during the marriage. It allows couples to preemptively agree on the division of debts, overriding the state's default marital debt laws.
However, for the agreement to be enforceable, it must be fair, signed voluntarily, and both parties must have had a full disclosure of assets and liabilities. It's essential to have a legal professional review the terms of any prenuptial agreement to ensure it meets legal standards and serves your best interests.
Effects of Debt Division on Credit Scores
Dividing debt in a divorce can also significantly impact your credit score. The division of debt doesn't absolve or remove responsibility from a creditor's perspective. Therefore, if your name is on a debt that's assigned to your ex-spouse, and they fail to make payments, it could negatively affect your credit score. This is true even if the divorce decree assigns the debt to your former spouse.
Creditors consider any debt in your name as your responsibility, regardless of any court order. Hence, it's critical to monitor any joint accounts to ensure timely payments are being made or, if possible, remove your name from such accounts upon divorce. If your ex-spouse is responsible for certain debts, consider closing or freezing joint accounts or refinancing debts solely in their name to protect your credit score. In the case of a home mortgage, it might be best to sell the home and divide the assets rather than risk one party defaulting on payments.
Your Advocate in Dividing Debt in a Kansas Divorce
Dividing debt in a Kansas divorce is a complex process that requires careful consideration and understanding of the law. It's crucial to have an experienced family law attorney by your side who can guide you through the legal complexities and protect your rights.
At Rundberg Law, LLC, I am committed to providing outstanding legal services and guiding clients through the intricacies of divorce. From my office in Overland Park, Kansas, I serve those in Johnson County, and clients in Missouri. No matter what your needs are, reach out to me for an initial consultation. Together, we can discuss your specific concerns and develop a strategy tailored to your needs.