Charge It: Credit Card Debt And Divorce

Needless to say, the convenience of using plastic to pay for needs and wants is indisputable, but for divorcing couples credit card debt can often turn into nothing but a dispute. Credit card debt is part of the marital estate, and it must be addressed through claiming it, paying it off or dividing it. It's interesting to note that how credit card debt is handled in divorce depends a great deal on where you live. Read on to learn more about how credit card debt is handled when divorcing.

Equitable Distribution States

The vast majority of states use this form of property and debt division and if you live in one of these states the debts charged on the credit card belongs only to the person who owns the account, regardless of what the card was used for. Even if the non-owning spouse had their own (second card) credit card and use of the account, the debt is the responsibility of the account holder and no one else.

Jointly held credit card accounts are relatively uncommon, but in general joint debts can be more complicated to assign. Unless proof can shown that one party never used the account, the debt may be simply split 50/50. It should be noted that paying off as much debt, especially jointly-held debt, before filing for divorce is highly recommended.

Community Property States

10 states still use the community property model, and in those states the property and debt of the couple are considered to be owned by the "community", in other words, both people. All debt entered into after the time of the marriage is considered joint debt, no matter who used the account or who's name is on the account. This way of considering marital debt can sometimes result in some unpleasant surprises, since you may not be fully aware of how deeply in debt your spouse is until you divorce them. It's important to note that once you separate and live apart, any debt from that point on is owned by the person who initiated the debt. Keep concise records of your debts during the separation period. 

This issue can be among the most emotional and contentious, and financial habits often play a key role in many marriage breakups. Whether you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state, consult closely with your divorce attorney to form a creative and fair divorce agreement outside of court. Visit for more information. 


About Me

The Internet Makes Learning about Law Easier than Ever

Unlike many children growing up today, I am old enough to remember what life was like before the internet became popular! Many years ago, I ended up in a messy legal situation that stemmed from a simple misunderstanding. It turned out that I actually did not break the law, and finding that out in court was a great relief! While I had a great lawyer who helped me during that time, reading some legal information for myself about the laws surrounding my incident could have greatly eased my worries during the stressful time. I have since dedicated myself to learning more about the law, so I never have to deal with a legal mess again. I thought I would make a blog to share some legal knowledge I have acquired along with some general legal tips. I hope I can help many people!



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