Understanding Marital Debts in Utah

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Understanding Marital Debts in Utah

In the context of a divorce, determining which debts are considered marital debts is crucial as it influences the division of liabilities between spouses. In Utah, marital debts are generally defined as those incurred by either spouse during the course of the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the debt. These debts are presumed to benefit both parties or the marital household. Here’s a detailed overview of what constitutes marital debts in Utah and how they are treated in a divorce.

Definition Of Marital Debts

Marital debts are obligations incurred during the marriage for the benefit of the marital estate. This includes a wide range of debts, such as:

  1. Credit Card Debts: Debts incurred on credit cards used for family expenses, household items, or joint entertainment are typically considered marital debts.
  2. Mortgages: Any mortgage taken out on the family home or other property purchased during the marriage is a marital debt, regardless of whether one or both spouses signed the loan documents.
  3. Auto Loans: Loans taken out for vehicles purchased during the marriage are marital debts, even if only one spouse’s name is on the title or loan.
  4. Personal Loans: Loans obtained during the marriage for purposes such as home improvements, vacations, or other joint activities are considered marital debts.
  5. Medical Bills: Medical expenses incurred during the marriage, for either spouse or their children, are typically treated as marital debts.
  6. Student Loans: Student loans taken out during the marriage can be more complex. Generally, they are considered marital debts if they were used to support the household or for the benefit of both spouses.

Non-Marital Debts

Debts that are not considered marital debts include:

  1. Premarital Debts: Any debt incurred by one spouse before the marriage remains the separate responsibility of that spouse, unless it was explicitly assumed by the other spouse during the marriage.
  2. Post-Separation Debts: Debts incurred after the separation date, but before the divorce is finalized, may be considered the sole responsibility of the spouse who incurred them, especially if they were not for the benefit of the marital estate.
  3. Non-Marital Expenses: Debts incurred for personal expenses that do not benefit the marital estate, such as a spouse’s individual hobbies or affairs, may not be considered marital debts.

Division Of Marital Debts

In Utah, the division of marital debts during a divorce is handled through equitable distribution. This means that the court aims to divide debts (and assets) fairly, though not necessarily equally. Factors considered include:

  • Each Spouse’s Contribution:

The court looks at how much each spouse contributed to the marriage, including income, homemaking, and childcare.

  • Earning Capacity:

The current and future earning capacity of each spouse is taken into account.

  • Financial Circumstances:

The court evaluates the financial situation of each spouse, including their ability to pay off debts.

  • Duration of the Marriage:

The length of the marriage can impact the division of debts, with longer marriages often resulting in a more even split.

  • Custodial Arrangements:

If one spouse has primary custody of the children, the court may allocate debts in a way that does not unduly burden the custodial parent.


Understanding what constitutes marital debts in Utah is essential for spouses undergoing a divorce. Marital debts are those incurred during the marriage for the benefit of the household and are subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. Each case is unique, and the division of debts is influenced by various factors aimed at achieving a fair outcome for both parties. Consulting with a legal professional can provide guidance tailored to individual circumstances and ensure a clear understanding of debt responsibilities post-divorce.


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