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Debt division important in a divorce

Divorces often bring difficult negotiations over custody issues as well as property division. Ohio couples whose marriages are ending may sometimes neglect to have a discussion of the division of their marital debts, however. Understanding how various forms of debt are handled can prevent nasty surprises during the division of marital property and serve as a bargaining tool in the divorce.

Ohio courts follow the principle of equitable distribution when making a determination regarding the division of assets and debts, and such obligations as medical expenses may be allocated to one or both parties based upon that precept. In contrast, credit card debt is often divided based on whether the account is jointly held or not.

A mortgage on the couple's primary residence can be tricky because of its sheer size as well as the fact that one party is often awarded the home during property division. A court order may simply remove enough assets or add enough debt to account for an equity buyout of the other party's share in the home.

Many divorces present a complex blend of marital property and property owned outside the marriage. A clear understanding of all debt and property obtained during the marriage can provide protection against financial hardship after the divorce. Full disclosure may also provide negotiating tools when one party wants to claim an asset for sentimental value or make claims that certain property should be treated as being separately owned and thus not subject to division. A person who is contemplating a divorce or who facing the start of proceedings initiated by the other spouse may want to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in negotiating an agreement that covers these issues and which can be approved by the judge.

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