Sorting out joint credit card debt during divorce

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2020 | credit card debt |

Paying down credit card debt can be challenging, it takes discipline and diligence. However, for divorcing couples things get more complicated if that credit debt was accumulated during marriage

After years of joint credit cards, authorized users, spending limits and what not, determining everyone’s obligations isn’t always straightforward, and is often left up to the judge. Unfortunately, many divorcees in New Jersey end up saddled with debt accumulated by their ex-spouse.

Like with many other divorce-related matters, many factors play a role in how credit card debt is divvied up amongst the parties.

Factors at play

Two of the most important variables are judge and jurisdiction. The state the divorce is taking place in matters. State law governs issues surrounding debt and divorce, and thus the way the debt gets allocated is highly dependent on where the divorce is taking place.

For example, some states abide by community law, in which case both parties are jointly liable for all the debt accumulated during the marriage, even after divorce. Other states follow the common law rule, in which parties are only accountable for debt issued solely in their name.

Relatedly, the judge presiding over the divorce is an important factor to consider. Yes. The law is the law. But each judge applies their own unique interpretive procedures to coax out the meaning of the law, and how it governs each unique divorce. The parties may be the ones negotiating, but the judge always has the final say in the matter.

Protecting your finances

Some marriages fall apart suddenly and without notice, in other instances divorce is foreseeable. Although much is out of the control of either spouse, steps can be taken to reduce exposure to the soon-to-be ex-spouse’s irresponsible credit card spending habits.

Firstly, spending limits can be imposed to contain the damage caused by the other party. In some instances, a spouse is merely the authorized user of their husband/wife’s credit card. Authorized usership can be revoked, however, to immediately prevent the spouse from making further purchases with the card.

Credit debt, like an impending divorce, is a matter that shouldn’t be put off. Scheduling an initial consultation with the attorney is the first step to ensuring your interests are protected.