When a New Jersey couple goes through a divorce, their assets as well as their debts will be divided by the court according to the principle of equitable distribution if they are otherwise unable to agree on a settlement. However, how the debt is divided may partially depend on who is legally responsible for the obligation. For instance, if a couple had a joint credit card, both parties may be responsible for that debt regardless of who was expected to make the payment.
In the event that one spouse had an individual credit card, he or she would typically be solely responsible for taking care of that debt. One exception to the rule may apply when a couple has a mortgage. In most cases, the person who makes the most money or has custody of the kids will be awarded the marital home and thus the underlying obligation. If a couple chooses, they may sell the home and split the proceeds from the sale.
A court will take a variety of factors into account when trying to determine if both spouses should be responsible for medical debt. Some factors a judge may take into account include whether the couple were living together when the debt was accrued and whether or not being asked to pay the debt would negatively impact the couple's children. Courts may also look at whether or not the debt is considered necessary care when determining how to divide this liability.
When an individual is going through a divorce, it may be a good idea to talk to a family law attorney. In some cases, legal counsel may be able to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that covers property and debt division as well as other relevant issues and that can be approved by the court and made a part of the divorce decree.