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Who is responsible for credit card debt in a divorce?

by | Feb 10, 2020 | Divorce

When a couple parts ways, not only are their assets on the table, but so are their debts. Frankly, creditors don’t care who pays the debt as long as it gets paid. Couples thinking about divorce need to understand who is responsible for credit card debt when a marriage is over. New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which dictates issues around the division of debt in a divorce situation and means a divorce court will divide marital assets and debts in a fair manner between spouses, although not necessarily equally.

The person in whose name the credit card is issued is legally responsible for paying the balance on the card, even when there is an authorized user attached to it which is likely to be a spouse. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that person will be solely responsible for the debt in divorce proceedings. If both names are on a credit card account, both parties will be responsible to creditors and may be jointly responsible when it comes to divorce. If a family court judge is asked to rule on the division of debt, he or she will likely rule based on individual circumstances; that is, the judge will try and come up with a fair division of financial responsibilities.  

What the judge thinks is fair will probably depend on how much debt there is and whether it was amassed to cover marital expenses or for the purchase of marital property. He or she may also look at what each individual earns as income. A court order does not nullify a contract anyone has with the issuer of a credit card.

The circumstances surrounding the payment of debt in a divorce scenario can seem perplexing. An experienced New Jersey attorney may be able to provide his or her client with some clarification on the issue. A lawyer can also offer suggestions on how a client might protect his or her credit rating through the divorce process.