Will I have to pay my spouse’s credit card debt?

If you are like most consumers in the United States, you likely have at least one credit card in your wallet. Some people choose to pay off all credit card balances faithfully every month while other people carry some balances on their cards, paying interest on the amount owed as they go. When you are married, you may have some credit cards in your name only and some card accounts that you share with your spouse. If you and your spouse have different financial styles, you will want to pay attention to how the debt on your joint cards may impact you during your divorce.

U.S. News and World Report indicates that credit card issuers generally do not follow the terms of your divorce decree when determining who they will pursue for repayment of a debt. They also do not pay attention to your divorce decree when reporting late or missed payments to credit bureaus. This means that if your spouse is ordered to repay a debt on a jointly held credit card, simply outlining this in your divorce decree may not sufficiently protect you.

Instead of relying on a divorce decree alone, some people find it better to pay off all debt before their divorce is final. When this cannot be done, the person who remains liable for a debt may transfer that debt to a new account in their name only, thereby removing liability from the other spouse.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give divorcing spouses worried about their financial future an overview of how any joint debt they share with their partner may be addressed as part of their larger divorce settlement agreement.

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