How is credit-card debt handled during a divorce?

Oftentimes, conversations about property division during a divorce center around how couples will split up their home, car and other valuable assets. These conversations rarely center around how liabilities, such as credit-card debt, will be handled once the two of you go your separate ways. It’s a discussion that the two of you will want to have, though, if you’re planning to maintain your creditworthiness.

While many pieces of property can be split up in a divorce decree, credit card companies couldn’t care less about what it says. All they care about is holding the cardholder accountable for paying back the debt that they owe.

If you and your ex share joint credit card accounts, then the best thing that you can do is try to pay off the card before your divorce is finalized. If you both can reach an agreement to each pay a portion of the bill each month, then this is ideal.

Situations that are riddled with distrust may need to be handled differently. If you don’t feel that you can trust your ex to reliably pay the bill each month, then you may want to contact your credit card company. When you speak with them, you may want to ask if they’ll allow you to split the debt down the middle and have cards issued in your own individual names.

Whatever financial agreements you agree to, it should be documented in your divorce settlement. It should clearly spell out how the two of you will have to return to court to broker a new deal if your ex fails to make necessary payments.

Having this clearly documented may protect you if your ex chooses not to pay up or files for bankruptcy. It may give you a leg to stand on if your creditor goes after you for the debt, penalties and interest because your ex failed to pay their bill.

Having conversations about money issues, especially when you have significant debt, is bound to become contentious. In situations like these, a Southern Maine attorney may recommend mediation as the best way to protect your interests.