Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Philadelphia Family Lawyer > Blog > Family Law > Dividing Marital Debt in a Philadelphia Divorce

Dividing Marital Debt in a Philadelphia Divorce


According to Pennsylvania law, the division of marital debt is handled the same way as the division of marital property. This means that both spouses are generally responsible for any debt they acquired during the marriage. This is true regardless of which party incurred the debt. In this article, the Philadelphia divorce attorneys at The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane will discuss the division of marital debt during a divorce and how it works under Pennsylvania’s equitable distribution rules.

Pennsylvania courts consider debt as either marital or separate property when processing a divorce before they divide the debt between the two spouses. Marital debt constitutes any debt that was incurred during the marriage and prior to separation. This includes mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, and personal loans. The courts don’t care which party acquired the debt; it is still considered part of the marital estate and subject to equitable distribution once you divorce.

When a Pennsylvania couple divorces, the court will divide marital property and debt through a process known as equitable distribution. Below, we will discuss how equitable distribution works in Pennsylvania.

The equitable distribution of marital debt in Pennsylvania 

While some states divide marital assets and debts 50/50, Pennsylvania is not among them. Instead, courts consider numerous factors to decide what is fair under specific circumstances. These factors include:

  • Each spouse’s contribution to acquiring marital debt
  • Each spouse’s income and earning capacity
  • Separate property each spouse brought into the marriage
  • The length of the marriage
  • The standard of living each spouse enjoyed during the marriage
  • Whether one spouse will be awarded custody of the children

After the court determines the most equitable way to divide marital property and debt, it will issue an order that outlines both spouse’s responsibility for repayment. This might involve dividing shared accounts or selling off assets to ensure that both spouses pay their share of the debt.

It’s important to understand that if one spouse is assigned a debt to repay and fails to make repayment, the creditor can go after the other spouse to secure the money. For that reason, this is a good time to consider refinancing or taking measures to remove the other party’s name from loans that they are no longer responsible for.

What happens to student loans in a Pennsylvania divorce? 

Student loans are a complicated aspect of divorce. While student loans that are acquired during the marriage are considered marital property, courts have ruled that student loan debt must be allocated solely to the individual who took out the loan in situations where they are the “sole and exclusive” beneficiary of educational benefits. Determining whether or not they are the “sole and exclusive” beneficiary of educational benefits is a decision that the court would make on an individual basis.

Talk to a Philadelphia Divorce Lawyer Today 

The Law Offices of Lauren H. Kane represent the interests of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery & Philadelphia County residents who are pursuing a divorce. Call our Philadelphia family lawyers today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin addressing issues related to marital property and debt right away.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn