Dealing With Credit Card Debt And Divorce

If you and your spouse are divorcing, you will find yourself dealing with a number of important issues, and marital debt can be among the most contentious of those issues. The convenience of credit cards often means that a couple can rack up thousands in debt before they realize it, and that debt has to be dealt with during the divorce process. Read on to learn more about how the issue of credit card debt during a divorce is resolved.

Two Ways of Looking at Divorce Debt

There are many ways of dividing up credit card debts when you divorce, but the first order of business should be to determine whether you live in a community property or equitable distribution state. In both cases, any debt acquired before the marriage belongs only to the spouse that applied for it.

Community Property: The number of states that follow the community property rules of dealing with debt (and property) is quite a bit smaller than the equitable distribution states, with there only being 10 at this time. Here, the meaning of the word "community" is meant to encompass the couple. In other words, the couple is considered a community of two, right up until the divorce is final.

This means that all debt is owned by both people, and a divorce usually just means that it gets split down the middle 50/50. You say you had very little debt while your free-spending spouse had a ton of it? In a community property state you are still responsible for one-half of all of the debt of you both, as a couple. This can be a disadvantage, but on the other hand the marital property may also be divided 50/50, regardless of who purchased it or where the funds came from to buy it.

Equitable distribution: The rest of the states follow this method of dividing debt and property, and this method attempts to make the person who acquired the debt responsible for it when divorcing. The person who originally applied for the account and whose name is on the account is responsible for paying the debt, no matter what was purchased.

While the incidence of joint credit card accounts is not as common as it used to be, there may still be some who have both of their names on a debt. In most cases, the judge will ask the parties to split the debt right down the middle, unless one party can show that the other used the card almost exclusively. In more complicated and highly contested divorces, a forensic accountant may need to be brought in to sort out the mess of who charged what.

To learn more speak to your divorce attorney. Visit a site like for more help.