How Is Debt Divided in Divorce UK – Complete Breakdown, Overview with Guide, FAQs & More

Divorce is an emotionally draining process. 

Unfortunately, the legal advice on divorce is also very complicated as assets such as property listed under joint names are a hassle to deal with when there is a dispute. 

If you’re (unfortunately) going through a similar situation, keep on reading to find out your rights and your control on assets in a divorce.

Let’s get right to it.

Are You Liable for Your Partner’s Debts?

It is very common that partners intermingle their property, credit cards and even use joint names on debts and assets. 

You may even have a joint account with your credit card company.

Dealing with divorce, splitting assets and credit cards’ debt can be a very frustrating process. 

When it comes to loans, if you signed on a loan or cosigned with your spouse, it is your responsibility.

You have to pay off that debt if your name and signatures are involved in it somewhere, even if your (ex) partner has told you that they would take care of it, you still owe that money and you could be held liable for non-payment of the loan. 

If your name is on the debt as a borrower or a cosigner, you owe it. It is another harsh fact related to divorce that you have to accept.

How Does My Partner’s Debt Affect Me?

Marrying someone with a bad credit history does not affect your credit score. You are not liable for debts taken solely in your partner’s name. Only the debts taken jointly and on which you are a cosigner are your debts. 

Debts taken in your partner’s name are not your debts and it is not your job to take care of them. 

How To Split Assets in a Divorce?

If you’re wondering:

‘How are assets split in a divorce?’

You probably won’t get a specific answer. How assets are split in divorce vary from case to case. Property disputes usually continue for a long time before they are ever settled.

It is hardly ever the case that your assets are split in the same way somebody else’s were. 

It depends on your lawyer, the type of asset and your relationship with your ex after the marriage is over.

Property

In a lot of the situations, married couples are able to decide themselves how property in joint names are to be split up. Property cases are the main disputes that are presented in the court day in day out.

To avoid the hassle of fighting for property in court, couples usually come forward with an already made agreement, and have to just get a ‘consent order’ so that their agreement is legally binding and cannot be avoided.

If no agreement can be reached, going to court over property disputes after marriage should be the last resort and legal advice should be sought long before that point comes. 

Moreover, your mortgage lender should also be contacted and made aware of the circumstances so that there are no confusions later on. Mortgage problems become increasingly common later on if you don’t take timely action on your property.

Pensions

Pensions are usually dealt with off-setting. This is a process in which one partner receives the whole pension and the other gets cash and assets of equal value as opposed to the pension. This avoids disputes like there are in property dealings.

This process involves valuing your entire pension over its lifetime giving the other assets of the same value.

Investments

Generally, if any generated income comes from your investments, the income must be split in half and given to both parties.

However there are some exceptions.

One exception is that the investment was made before the marriage and the income was generated while the marriage was solid. The court has different specific rulings for each small dispute and ultimately it is up to the judge to decide how the assets and debts will be split.

This happens because the circumstances after every marriage aren’t the same at all and the judge has to put great consideration into every case to make sure he gives out the correct verdict.

Savings

The starting point for the splitting of savings is 50/50. However, the verdict completely depends on the circumstances of the couple who are separating and their relationship after the marriage. It varies from case to case.

how is a house divided in a divorce uk

How is Debt Divided in a Separation?

Debt under joint names such as credit card debts, mortgage payments of your mortgage company, long-term and short-term debts are all part of your daily life. 

In a separation, all debts under a joint name are split up among the separating couple.

Mortgage

Mortgage payments to a mortgage lender have to be made by both parties. Property dealing with a mortgage company is always complicated.

If a particular party wants out of the mortgage deal, they can do so and the responsibility of paying the loan will solely be upon the other partner. 

However, if your partner wants out of your mortgage payments, make sure that you get their name out of the title of the asset as well. Mortgage payments under a joint name usually mean that the asset is also listed under a joint name. 

Make sure to get that corrected once you separate.

The cleanest solution in such a situation is to sell the house and divide the money. This way your mortgage lender wouldn’t be able to come after you plus you will also be relieved of the financial pressure of paying off your mortgage on time. 

Mortgage debt usually goes to the spouse in charge of the children or the spouse with greater financial banking. The court outcome is unpredictable and can go either way. It is sometimes a good idea to sell off your property and any additional mortgage payments along with it.

Car Loans

These are different from property loans and mortgage payments. You can either insist upon an automatic payment from their account, or you can ask to refinance any remaining debts in your name.


Even if one spouse refuses to pay, it results in a bad history for both of them and that road is never suitable.

Medical Debt

Medical loans in a separation are split up in pretty much a 50/50 manner. However often some considerations are made like when was the loan acquired? Was it during marriage? Will the debt affect the children? Questions like these have their answer only in court.

This isn’t like property dealings and just cannot be split up straight away so this presents a more complicated case.

Auto Loan Debt

It is similar to car loans. You can either refinance the payment on your own name or you can ask your spouse to pay their share.

Credit Card Debt

Credit cards are issued in one single name usually. If it is issued in only your spouse’s name, you are not liable for this debt. However, if it is a joint credit card, there are a number of plans available for you. Contact your card lender for additional information that applies to your case.

Should I Pay off All Debt Before I Get Divorced?

It is an intelligent solution to pay off all debts equally before you get divorced. However sometimes, such as in the case of mortgage, the debt to pay back is too high and cannot be resolved instantly. 

In case you hold the financial power to get it done, you should ideally pay all your debts before getting divorced.

FAQs – Divorce Debt

What to do if my ex doesn’t pay divorce debt?

If your ex doesn’t pay their share of debts, you go to court over it. The court then considers both your circumstances and decides if one party has a financial advantage over the other.

This is done by analysing their current jobs and predicting future incomes on their current jobs. The decision is entirely up to the court. 

They decide if one party is not able to pay the debt under their current financial circumstances and also decide if the debt should be switched to the other party with the given circumstances.

Are assets split 50/50 in a separation?

It is a common misconception that assets are split up equally upon separation. A lot of issues are considered by the court. Mainly the existence and age of any children. 

The partner who cares for the children is obviously going to get more of the assets to cater their needs and get financial support for the upbringing of the children.

However, the exact asset distribution depends from case to case as there are a lot of things to consider like mortgage repayments and maintenance payments. It is rare that assets are ever split equally in a separation so you might want to get that option out of your head.

Who gets the house in a Separation?

If the judge determines that the marital house is one spouse’s separate property, that one gets it. These rulings are different from case to case so it is imperative that you contact a good lawyer to fight your case who can retrieve maximum property.

It is all about convincing the judge that you deserve the property more than your spouse, so the rulings on these types of cases aren’t as specific as you’d think due to the variety of cases that come forward. 

How to rebuild credit after divorce?

Bad credit history is on your name, your spouse isn’t responsible for your credit rating. If you’re going through a divorce, keep in mind that your spouse’s credit history doesn’t affect yours one bit.

Can I be forced to pay my ex’s debt?

You can only be forced to pay a debt under your own name or if you cosigned on a debt. If your spouse took a debt in their own name, you are not responsible for even one penny and it is entirely their responsibility.

What if my spouse creates more debt during the divorce?

If your spouse creates more debt under their own name, it is not your responsibility at all and they have to pay back those debts from their own money. One party is not liable for debts taken solely under the other party’s name.

Can I be taken to court for my spouse’s debt?

You can only be taken to court for a debt under a joint name. Debts under one name usually mean that only that particular person can be taken to court. You cannot be taken to court for a debt solely under your partner’s name.

Can my ex’s debt collectors come after me?

You ex’s debt collectors can only come after you if you have cosigned on a loan. If you’ve gone through the divorce, they will contact them directly. Even if they contact you by mistake, you can let them know about your marital status and clear any confusion.

If you’re being hounded by debt collectors for debts owed by your ex, you can report them to the Financial Conduct Authority.

If you’re still confused, you can seek further advice from independent debt charities such as StepChange.

A Quick Recap

Going through separation is a very painful process and constant court calls and lawyer fees don’t make it any easier.

If you need mental health counselling, consider your options and go for it. It is a very difficult process and anyone who is in this situation needs a way to cope up with it. 

If you need additional help regarding your rights in such a situation, feel free to reach out to me on the given email address, I’ll help you in any way I can.


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