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Dividing credit card debt during a divorce

Divorcing couples will likely worry about the division of all the assets they’ve amassed during the marriage. Assets from the family home and vehicles to bank accounts and retirement funds need to be properly valued and divided in an equitable manner. On the path to true financial independence, though, the parties will have to carefully examine the debts they’ve acquired as well.

Financial liabilities can run the gamut from a home mortgage and personal loans to medical bills and credit card debt. While a mortgage and car loans might be addressed during asset division, it is wise to pay careful attention to the division of credit card debt. Credit card debt can be complicated in a marriage because the purchases were likely shared. Maybe the card was used to pay for groceries, or a utility bill is tied to that card. In these situations, you will likely need to rely on the legal guidance of the judge and your attorneys to reach an equitable split of assets and debts while taking support responsibilities into account.

It is important to remember that your debt supersedes the divorce order. Even if the judge orders your ex to pay a certain debt, you are still responsible if your name is on the card. Therefore, it is crucial that you work to remove your name from any joint or shared accounts following the divorce. Unfortunately, a creditor is unlikely to remove your name even when presented with the divorce decree. The party who is responsible for the debt – based on the terms reached in the property division – should be able to transfer that debt from the joint card to an individual card and then close the shared account.

It is crucial that you not assume your ex will pay the debt he or she has been legally ordered to. Your divorce means nothing to the credit card companies. The best solution is to pay off any shared credit cards when you realize divorce is a reality. Begin working immediately to remove yourself from shared accounts as soon as possible.

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