Hardy v. Hardy
311 S.C. 433, 429 S.E.2d 811 (1993)

  • Mr. Hardy and Mrs. Hardy filed for divorce after 36 years of marriage.
    • At the time of the divorce, Mr. Hardy owed about $32k in his name, and Mrs. Hardy owed about $3k in her name.
      • All of the debt was acquired during the marriage.
  • As part of the divorce settlement, the Trial Court found that each party was responsible for paying their own debt. In addition, the Court awarded Mrs. Hardy some alimony. Mr. Hardy appealed.
  • The Appellate Court reversed the award of alimony.
    • The Appellate Court found that alimony should only be awarded when there is a set of circumstances likely to generate a need for alimony.
      • In this case, Mrs. Hardy had a pension and a part-time job, and there was no foreseeable need for support.
    • The Court found that when determining assets in order to make an apportionment, the courts must factor in debts. Therefore, there is a rebutable presumption that all debts are joint marital property.
      • In this case, despite the fact that Mr. Hardy had $32k of debt in his name and Mrs. Hardy had $3k in her name, the Trial Court should have found that they had $35k of marital debt and apportioned it evenly.
        • The presumption is rebutable though, and if the Trial Court finds that some of the debt was non-marital, they don’t have to split it.
        • Non-marital debt is debt created for non-marital purposes.
  • The basic rule is that marital debt is divided the same way as marital property.