When you are getting a divorce, credit card debt can be one of the most difficult things to manage. Some of the most common concerns include what to do with existing credit card debt, if there is anything that you can do to protect yourself from new credit card debt after your divorce, and how credit card debt in divorce affects your credit score. The good news is that there are many ways for you to protect yourself from credit card debt during a divorce and ensure that it does not negatively affect your credit score.
Who Is Liable for Credit Card Debt in a Divorce?
Figuring out who is liable for credit card debt during a divorce can be difficult. In general, credit card debt is a shared responsibility of the couple. If you are legally married at the time that the credit cards were opened, both spouses can generally be held liable for any credit card debt that accumulates during this period. Ultimately it comes down to where you live as the laws vary from state to state.
How Will the Divorce Impact My Credit Score?
Filing a divorce does not directly affect your credit score, but there may be some indirect impacts as the process often involves splitting up joint accounts and other debts. These changes can cause credit utilization to rise as the overall credit available decreases. The other factor that may affect your credit score is any missed or late payments, which if they are reported to the credit bureaus, can cause your credit score to drop temporarily.
How to Protect Your Credit During a Divorce
It is important that you are proactive in protecting your credit during a divorce. Below are a few ways that credit can be protected during divorce:
Try to maintain the same credit limits on joint accounts
It is important to keep credit limits constant when the credit cards are split into separate accounts. This is because credit scores will be impacted if there is a sudden change in available credit, even though this may not immediately impact you from a practical standpoint.
Consult with your attorney about how best to handle debts during divorce
An attorney could help you understand credit card debt and what your options are during the course of a divorce. This may include working with creditors to split up joint credit accounts or choosing between having one person take on all credit card debt moving forward. However, it’s important to consider whether you want to add more attorneys fees on top of existing debt and divorce costs.
Know what you are responsible for
Figuring out what you are responsible for can be tricky and credit card debt might not always be clearly defined in a divorce settlement. If you want to protect yourself, it’s best to know what debts will impact your credit score moving forward so that you aren’t surprised. If there is any doubt about if something will impact your credit score, we recommend consulting with a certified debt specialist who can help recommend a path forward.
Continue to make credit card payments
While you may have a lot on your plate during this time, credit card payments are still due. Even if you or your spouse ends up with all the credit cards after the divorce is final, it’s important to make sure these bills get paid each month so that consumer credit scores don’t take a hit because of delinquent accounts. Payment history is one major factor that influences your credit score and creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders.
If Your Ex Files Bankruptcy
If your ex-spouse files for bankruptcy, you might be responsible for credit card debt and other liabilities incurred during the marriage. You’ll need to be especially careful if you are a cosigner on any loans or credit cards as you could be responsible for those debts even after the divorce.
What Happens with Joint Credit Card Debt After Divorce?
In the same way that assets are divided during a divorce, credit card debt must also be divided. This is something that is decided during the discovery phase of a divorce proceeding when you and your spouse will submit a statement of your net worth that includes all assets and liabilities. Depending on the state you live in, credit card debt will either be split between the two parties or the debt will be divided based on who purchased what.
How Are Finances Split in a Divorce?
This answer depends on what state you live in. Some states classify property as community property, which means all finances the couple shares will be divided equally and any separate assets that are individually owned will stay with that individual. If you live in a state that uses equitable distribution, this means that anything accumulated during the marriage is divided fairly between the two individuals.
How Can CreditAssociates Help?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of debt that has accumulated over the course of your marriage, such as credit card debt, contact CreditAssociates today. Our certified debt consultants will walk you through how you can resolve your debt while paying less than what you originally owed. The best part? Our consultation is FREE and requires no commitment. Let us help!
Common Questions about Credit Card Debt and Divorce:
How is credit card debt split in a divorce?
When there is an outstanding debt on a credit card that both parties are authorized users on, the credit card company may assign a certain percentage of the total credit to each person. If there are credit cards only in the name of one person, the responsibility will be determined by property laws for the state in which you reside.
Am I responsible for my spouse’s credit card debt?
It is possible that you may be responsible for debt incurred by your spouse. It will ultimately be determined by the property laws of the state you live in.
What is considered marital debt?
Marital debts are any debts that are incurred during the marriage. This can include credit card debt, student loans, mortgages, and so on. If you live in a community property state, any debts that are incurred by either one of the spouses are considered to be marital debt even if only one spouse actually signed for it or used it.
What can I do to remove any liability when it comes to my spouse’s debt?
In some states, it is possible to reach a legal agreement (pre- or postnuptial) that lays out what each spouse is responsible for. This agreement should be specifically drafted to fit the state’s laws surrounding credit card debt during a divorce.
Is it better to pay off debt before divorce?
If you are able to, we recommend that you try to pay off any credit card debt that is a joint account before the divorce. This will help lower your credit utilization and credit score if it’s not already too late for this step. It can also be helpful to close out joint credit cards after divorce has been filed, but only if they are no longer being used by you or your spouse. If you feel like you owe too much to pay back, you might benefit from debt relief. Learn more here.