Divorce and credit card debts: Can they go together?

Feb 14

While some couples believe that the only option out of a dysfunctional marriage is a divorce, a few of them are quite hesitant in filing their legal papers because of one thing: credit card debt. Some are apprehensive that when they get divorced, they could bear sole liability of the debt, or at least be ordered to pay larger sums. But according to the lawyers of Holmes, Diggs, Eames & Sadler, proper legal guidance is all what it takes to file for divorce even if in debt.

First, it is important to note that most financial planners would advise that you get out of joint credit card debt first before ending your marriage. This can be done by dividing the debt and paying it off completely, or transferring it to your individual cards. However, for some, these options are not always available.

In the U.S., there are two systems in classifying marital properties and liabilities. Most states implement common law rules, wherein a married person solely owns the property s/he acquired, unless s/he expressly stated that his/her spouse would hold the property jointly. This same legal principle rules for credit card debts: if a married couple acquired credit card debt under his/her name, s/he will be the one to pay for it.

The scenario is different when you are living in a state where community property rules are implemented. In a community property state, any property acquired by married couples during their marriage is considered communal, and should be owned jointly by both. This principle can also be applied to credit card debt, which means any credit card debt incurred by either couple during their marriage are considered shared, and should be paid jointly. However, there is also a possibility that you will not be responsible for a debt incurred by your spouse that did not benefit your marriage in any way.

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