Q&A: Who is Responsible for Credit Card Debt During a Divorce?

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Question: “I am thinking of getting divorced, but am concerned about our debt. Who is responsible for the credit card debt?”

Answer:
I know that divorce can be an overwhelming process and trying to divide everything up can be stressful and upsetting. What often makes divorce take longer is resolving the debt that mounted up during the marriage. Many clients come to me with the same question and concern. Along with their divorce attorneys, we can work together to resolve the debts to everyone’s satisfaction.

Your question is a good one, but the answer will depend on a few factors:

Joint Accounts

When getting a divorce, you are not only dividing your assets, but you are also dividing your debt, including credit card debt. The rules on joint accounts vary by state, but in most cases, marital debt includes any debt incurred during the marriage regardless of whose name actually appears on the title. So for joint accounts, whatever credit card debt you built up while still married, you may be at least partially responsible for those debts once you get divorced. The same goes for any personal loans you may have taken out together during the marriage.

Separate Accounts

If you have separate accounts and cards, and only one spouse is responsible for the purchases on that card, then most likely the spouse who made the purchases will be responsible for that particular credit card debt. If, during the marriage, one spouse took out a loan for the benefit of themselves under their name only, then that spouse would be the sole person responsible for paying back the loan unless, during the divorce process, something else is agreed upon. Again, the rules can vary by state and your attorney can help guide you more specifically in this process.

There are exceptions to the rule to what is considered martial debt. For example if one spouse had a gambling addiction and racked up debt, this may not be considered marital debt.

Look for Ways to Save

To save yourself some money during your divorce, you might even want to consider sitting down with your soon to be ex-partner and going over an agreement on how you can take care of your debt as a team. You may need to involve your divorce attorney when making this decision. If you pay off the credit card debt together and have it in writing on who is paying what, then it might be an easier and quicker process.

For some couples, this may be near impossible to do – and that is OK. I would still recommend meeting with a debt attorney or a financial planner in addition to your divorce attorney. This can help you get your monetary situation under control before your divorce is finalized.

We understand how much pressure and stress a divorce can put on you. It is very important to divide your debts up correctly to make sure the end result is fair. Don’t stress, the process will be over soon enough! Are you currently going through a divorce and dividing up your debt? What is your process? Feel free to leave your comments and tips below.

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What People Have to Say

I just wanted to thank your entire staff at The Law Offices of Leslie H. Tayne, for helping me get out of debt. If it wasn’t for your firm, I would have never been able to resolve my $13k worth of debt in less than 3 years. Your staff did a great job, I was finally able to buy myself a brand new car without using a cosigner. I can’t tell you again how happy I am. I would recommend your services to anyone.

L.C. Client 2007-2009

I sleep like a baby at night now because of the work that you and your office have done. Rest assured that I will refer anyone I know to your office with conditions that are similarly circumstanced.

R.S. Client 2012-2014

You have been very helpful at first directing me in the right direction when I had no clue how to go about handling everything, I really appreciated all your advice and help and hope we can work something out. Thanks again for all your help and kind words, and patience.

D.M. Client 2009-2012