Rhode Island is an equitable distribution state, which means that in a divorce, assets are divided by the court based on a number of factors. It also means that debts may be divided pursuant to the same principles.
When was the debt acquired?
Typically, you aren’t responsible for any debts that your spouse accumulated before the marriage becomes official. In fact, you may not be liable for any debts taken out during the marriage that are not in your name. This is because property division laws generally apply only to joint assets as opposed to separate assets or liabilities.
Is your name on the account?
In most cases, a contract with your lender will trump the language in a divorce decree. Therefore, if your name appears on a credit card, auto loan or other type of loan document, you may be liable for paying an outstanding balance.
Debts may be refinanced before or after the divorce process
It’s possible that you will be required to pay a portion of an outstanding credit card, personal loan or other type of debt acquired during your marriage. In some cases, you will be given an opportunity to refinance the balance so that you are only responsible for paying your portion of that debt as ordered by a judge.
Any debts that are accumulated throughout the course of a marriage may be divided when that marriage comes to an end. This may be true whether your name is on the loan or not, and you may be liable for a larger percentage of a credit card or mortgage balance if you have a higher net worth than your spouse.