A liability is any debt or payment that either spouse is responsible for paying that was acquired during the marriage. The most common liabilities are mortgages, credit cards, student loans, personal debts, and payday loans. Similar to assets, in a divorce these liabilities must be divided equitably.

An Orland Park attorney can guide you through the division of liabilities. With the help of a skilled division of assets lawyer, you can make sure that you are not unfairly paying any debts acquired before or during your marriage.

How Are Liabilities Handled?

When it comes to dividing properties between spouses, debt is divided equitably. The court tries to look at the situation and determine what is fair to each party. In dividing liabilities, the court will generally look into equitable principles rather than on the titles of the debt. In other words, if the debt is in one party’s name it does not mean it will not be divided between the two parties.

The division of debt could impact other aspects of divorce, such as the division of assets and the allocation of spousal maintenance. For example, if one party takes a lot of debt, it may lower their obligation towards spousal maintenance.

Credit Card Debt

In the scope of liability division, credit cards are treated the same as all other debts. The court will look at whether it was acquired during the marriage and the purpose of the transactions. If the transactions had nothing to do with the marriage, there could be an argument that the debt should belong solely to the spouse who incurred the transaction.


A mortgage is usually the largest debt the parties have. But, when dividing it, the same principles that apply to any other liability would apply. For example, the name the title is in is not the determining factor for how it will be divided.

If one party is going to keep the house, they are generally going to be responsible for the debt and of the mortgage. If it is a joint mortgage and one party wants to keep the house, there is often a provision within the judgment that requires that person to refinance the home. That way it removes the other person’s liability from the home. The only situation where that would not happen is if one party is staying in the house and is entitled to maintenance or child support. In this scenario, the other party may pay the mortgage directly in lieu of the direct child support or maintenance payment.

Shared Insurance Policies

When it comes to dividing property, shared insurance policies are handled differently, depending on the type of insurance. For example, if it is health insurance, it is governed by the plan details and in many situations, a divorce terminates the rights of the spouse to be on the insurance.

On the other hand, if it is joint life insurance, there are usually separate policies even though they might be one bill. In this case, they have to look at the individual insurance at issue to determine the best course of action.

How Student Loans Are Treated

If both spouses contribute to the payment of one spouse’s loan, the remaining payments may or may not be a liability for both parties depending on the circumstances. They have to look at what the loan was used for. If it was a student loan and both parties were contributing to the loan, the court will look at what is equitable. Depending on the circumstances, a person may or may not have to pay back what their former spouse contributed prior.

There is a principle called contribution that applies in very limited circumstances. For example, in a situation where the marital estate contributed to a non-marital estate of the spouse who originally took out the loan may have to pay back the spouse who contributed. An attorney can help determine what may be fair under the specific circumstances.

Get Help with Division of Liabilities in Orland Park

Understanding how liabilites are divided can be difficult. Especially when looking at debts that one spouse acquired before the marriage, you may be wondering if you will get reimbursed for your contribution. To learn more about the division of liabilities in Orland Park, call Reidy Law Office LLC today.