When it comes to property division at the end of a marriage, most Virginia residents might at first think of material possessions to be divvied up. The division of marital property is a common issue addressed during nearly every divorce, but a less common topic that is nonetheless inevitable is that of marital debt. You and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will also need to divide up the debt that you owe.

How is this handled? Normally, states the Huffington Post, divorce debt is split in the same way as marital property. Both you and your ex will split the debt that you accrued during the marriage. Understandably, an equal division of debt can be a financial hardship if you are the one who makes a lesser income. Therefore, it can be wise to pay off as much debt as possible before you file for divorce. You should also have a thorough knowledge of the debt you and your spouse have, whether the debt is shared or in one spouse’s name only.

If, for example, your spouse’s name is on a car loan but yours isn’t, you may still be held liable for that debt if your ex does not pay. You may state in your divorce decree which bills either of you are to pay, but that won’t stop creditors from coming after you if your ex fails to uphold his or her end of the bargain. You might be able to protect yourself by having your spouse refinance the debt in his or her name, to legally rid your name from the loan. You could also have an indemnity clause written into your divorce contract that lets you take your ex to court if he or she doesn’t pay on a loan he or she is responsible for.

While intended to be helpful, this information should not be substituted for the advice of a lawyer.