If you are getting a divorce, pay special attention to your credit cards. You may be liable for any credit card debt, particularly if your credit cards are joint accounts. If you divorce and still have joint credit cards, you are asking for trouble, according to the Credit Info Center website.
Joint Credit Cards
Even if you think you have settled your credit card debt in your divorce decree, you may not have. For example, if your divorce decree states that your husband will pay off your joint credit card balances and he doesn’t, the credit card companies can come after you. Credit card companies don’t care about your divorce settlement. They simply want their money, and since you are responsible legally, the credit card companies are in their rights to come after you, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. If your husband made the payments, but late, that will also show up on your credit report.
Individual Credit Cards
If your husband was the individual owner of the credit card, then after you divorce, the balance owed is his alone unless you live in a community property state. If so, you may also be responsible for any credit card debt, even if the card was in your husband’s name only. The same goes if you were an authorized user of the card. If the card was in your husband’s name, but you were an authorized user, your husband is contractually liable for paying the debt, according to the FTC. Again, you may be liable for the debt, too, if you live in a community property state.
If you are going through a divorce and you have joint credit cards with your husband, make sure you at least make the minimum monthly payment to ensure that your credit won’t suffer. You can’t necessarily count on your ex paying this bill, and you are legally liable for it. If you can close your credit accounts before the divorce, that is even better. But, remember that simply closing the account isn’t enough. You also have to pay the debt.
How to Deal with the Debt
If you and your husband can pay off your joint credit cards together, do it, recommends the Credit Card website. If not, you can divide the debt and transfer it to cards that you both apply for separately. Another option is to sell a joint asset, such as your home, pay off your debt, and then close the account. Look through your wallet to make sure you have no outstanding credit cards that you have forgotten about. If you can’t work this out together, hire a mediator to help you.
After the Divorce
If you do have active joint credit cards after you divorce, at least keep good records of what charges are yours. This will prevent your ex from charging up the cards without your consent and holding you liable, recommends the Credit Cards website.
- scissors and credit card cut in two image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com