When “yours” and “mine” becomes “ours” in a marriage, undoing this financial entanglement through divorce can be quite complex. If you are planning to divorce and you or your spouse have significant credit card debt, you may be wondering who will be responsible for paying this debt. Depending on the circumstances under which credit card debt was accumulated and used, it is very possible that both spouses will be responsible for repayment.
Who Pays the Credit Card Balance?
Illinois courts divide marital property equitably but not necessarily evenly. Marital property refers to the assets and debt acquired during the marriage by either spouse. Save for certain inheritances and gifts, any property or debt obtained while the spouses are married is included in the marital estate. Property accumulated before the marriage is typically classified as nonmarital property and is assigned to the original owner. This means that typically, spouses are not jointly responsible for credit cards that were opened before the marriage and are in only one spouse’s name. However, spouses may be liable for credit card debts that were accumulated during the marriage – even if only one of the spouses made the credit card purchases. A spouse may not even become aware of credit card debt until he or she begins to examine financial documents in preparation for divorce. This is one reason that taking a full inventory of your property and debts during divorce is so crucial.
How Should Joint Debt Be Dealt With?
Credit card companies do not take marital status into consideration when collecting debt repayment. This means that if your spouse is responsible for making payments and fails to do so, you could be pursued by creditors. Many experts suggest paying off debt prior to filing for divorce, however, this is not always feasible. Another option is to use marital funds to pay off marital debt during the divorce. These funds may be from a savings account, the proceeds from the sale of your home, or another source. You may also want to consider negotiating a settlement in which you take responsibility for the joint debt and are awarded other marital assets in exchange. This helps you avoid having to trust your soon-to-be ex-spouse to continue making payments on the debt after the divorce is complete.
Contact a St. Charles Property Division Lawyer
The division of marital property and debt can be a complicated and contentious issue during divorce. For dependable legal guidance regarding these and other divorce issues, contact Shaw Family Law. Call our office at 630-584-5550 today and schedule a confidential case consultation with one of our Kane County divorce attorneys today.