Talk to an attorney
You are not required to hire an attorney, but dividing debts in a divorce can be complicated. Consider talking to an attorney to go over your options. One way to talk to an attorney is to visit a free legal clinic. Clinics provide general legal information and give brief legal advice. You might also hire an attorney for just part of your case or to do one particular thing, rather than represent you for the whole case. For more information, see our webpage on Finding Legal Help.
Division of marital debts
In many divorces, the parties must divide the debts they owe as well as the property they own. If the parties agree about how to divide the debts, the court will include that agreement in the divorce decree. If the parties cannot agree about how to divide the debts, the court will do its best to divide them fairly.
Generally, if there is debt associated with the property (for example, a car loan), the person who keeps the property will have to pay the debt. Generally both spouses are equally responsible for joint debts incurred for a family purpose (anything that benefits the whole family rather than just one spouse). Generally, a spouse is not responsible for the other spouse's personal debts unless they agreed to pay the debt.
Other than medical expenses for minor children, the court's order on how to divide the debts is binding only on the parties. Creditors are not required to honor the division of joint debts, even if they have been notified of the order. Thus, if the spouse who is supposed to pay a debt fails to do so, the creditor may seek payment from the other spouse, who then has to try to collect the money from the one who was supposed to pay. For more information and forms for enforcing an order to pay debts, see our page on Motion to Enforce Domestic Order (Order to Show Cause).
A creditor for medical expenses for minor children, who has been provided with a copy of the order, must honor the division of that debt.
- Answering a Complaint or Petition
- Child Custody and Parent Time
- Child Support
- Debt Division
- Default Judgments
- Divorce Mediation
- Fee Waiver
- Filing Procedures
- Finding Legal Help
- Going to Court
- How to get a Temporary Order
- Informal Trial of Support, Custody and Parent-Time
- Judicial Recognition of a Relationship as a Marriage
- Mandatory Education in Divorce and Temporary Separation
- Modifying Child Custody
- Modifying Child Support
- Modifying Parent-time
- Motion to Enforce Domestic Order (Order to Show Cause)
- Ninety-Day Waiting Period in Divorce Cases
- Online Court Assistance Program (OCAP)
- Parenting Plans
- Property Division
- Public and Non-public Records
- Separate Maintenance
- Serving Papers
- Temporary Separation
- Utah Statutes, Title 30, Husband and Wife
- Utah Statutes, Title 78B, Chapter 12, Utah Child Support Act
- Utah Statutes, Title 78B, Chapter 13, Utah Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act
- Utah Statutes, Title 78B, Chapter 14, Uniform Interstate Family Support Act