December 6, 2023

Marital Debt Definition

Marital debt refers to debt that is acquired during the course of a marriage. This can include debt that is incurred by either spouse individually or jointly. It is important to understand the implications of marital debt, as it can have significant financial consequences in the event of a divorce.

Types of Marital Debt

Marital debt can come in many forms. Some examples of common types of marital debt include:

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is one of the most common types of marital debt. This type of debt can be incurred by either spouse individually or jointly. It is important to note that even if one spouse is the primary cardholder, the other spouse may still be responsible for any debts incurred on the card.


Mortgages and Home Equity Loans

Mortgages and home equity loans are also common types of marital debt. These debts are typically incurred jointly, as both spouses are typically listed on the mortgage or loan documents.

Auto Loans

Auto loans are another type of marital debt that can be incurred either individually or jointly. If both spouses are listed on the loan documents, they are both responsible for repaying the debt.

Student Loans

Student loans are becoming an increasingly common form of marital debt. While these loans are typically incurred individually, they can still have an impact on the finances of both spouses.

Implications of Marital Debt

In the event of a divorce, marital debt is typically divided between the spouses. This means that both spouses are responsible for repaying any debts that were incurred during the marriage, regardless of who incurred the debt or who is listed on the loan documents.

It is important to note that the division of marital debt is not always split evenly between the spouses. The court will take into consideration a variety of factors, including each spouse’s income, earning potential, and overall financial situation.

If one spouse is unable to repay their share of the marital debt, the other spouse may be required to take on a greater share of the debt. This can have significant financial consequences, particularly if the debt is substantial.

Protecting Yourself from Marital Debt

There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from marital debt. These include:

Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that outlines how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. By including provisions for how marital debt will be divided, you can protect yourself from being responsible for debts that were incurred by your spouse.

Joint Financial Planning

By working together to create a financial plan, you can ensure that you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to managing debt. This can help to prevent disagreements and misunderstandings that could lead to marital debt.


Open and honest communication is key to avoiding marital debt. By discussing your finances with your spouse regularly, you can avoid surprises and ensure that you are both aware of any debts that are being incurred.


Marital debt can have significant financial consequences in the event of a divorce. By understanding the types of marital debt, the implications of marital debt, and how to protect yourself from marital debt, you can ensure that you are prepared for any potential financial challenges that may arise during your marriage.

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