Division of One Spouse’s Business Debts

“Oh, I don’t have any debts. But my spouse has sure racked up a lot of debt for her business. Luckily, I never signed for any of it. It doesn’t concern me.”


A lot of people find the legal principles controlling property division in divorce in Florida confusing. The first point of confusion is often: what exactly is included in marital debts? This is important to know because only marital debts are divided in Florida.

Many people, like the spouse above, believe that, if they didn’t sign anything, their spouse’s debts cannot touch them in any way. Unfortunately, that is not necessarily true, especially in divorce.

In Florida, if one spouse incurs debts for a business formed with the intent of producing income for the family (which is usually the case), those debts are considered marital, whether or not the other spouse co-signed for the debt.

Now, it is true that, depending on the particular type of debt and circumstances of any given situation, the third party lender may not be able to seek payment of the debt from the non-signing spouse. But that is a different, separate story.

As between the two divorcing spouses, all marital debt is subject to equitable distribution or division– just the same as though the other spouse had co-signed for the debt. So, contrary to many spouses’ expectations, this type of marital debt may touch and affect the non-signing spouse’s financial picture.

Of course, as with most things legal, exceptions may apply in any particular situation.

And, even if no exceptions apply, this doesn’t automatically mean that the non-signing spouse will be responsible for the entire debt or even for a full one-half of the debt. Rather, the debt will be divided equitably under all of the circumstances.