Do I Have to Pay Off my Ex’s Credit Card Debt After The Divorce? (Pt 2)

Credit cards
Few things are more irritating than getting stuck paying off someone else’s bill. BUt you may have to anyway…

Welcome back and thanks for joining us here at The Kronzek Firm in our Oakland County office,  in Farmington Hills, Michigan. We’ve been discussing the issue of credit card debt and how the court divides it up when a couple gets divorced. As we talked about in the previous article, if it counts as marital debt when your assets and debts get divided, then you’re both going to end up paying it off after the divorce. But it won’t always count as marital debts. There are a lot of factors that can influence the court’s decision when it comes to separating property. What are those factors? Let’s take a look at some of them. 

Is the credit card debt from stuff for both of you? Or just your ex?

So you want to know if you should have to pay off your ex’s credit card debt. Well, that depends on a number of factors, like who was spending the money, and why it was spent. Because it’s not just the “who” that matters here. The “why” is important too! If you and your spouse went on vacation to Bora Bora and racked up thousands in credit card debt, well… you were both on that vacation so it’s not likely the court is going to stick one of you with the bill. However, on the flip side, if you both contributed financially to a car that was only ever driven by one spouse (and they plan to keep that car after the divorce is final) there’s a good chance that along with the car, they’ll also get the bill for that car. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

If you spent it together, you pay it off together.

How the money was spent will help the judge determine whether or not the debt is ‘marital debt.’ If you and your spouse bought nice furniture for your living room (on the credit card of course) it’s unlikely you’ll get the Judge to view those items as anything other than marital debt. After all, they were purchased to furnish the home that you both owned and lived in together. They were freely available for both of you to use, and benefitted both of you in your daily lives. So chances are you’ll both probably have to pay off that debt. The only thing that might affect this ruling is if the one who gets to keep those items after the divorce agrees to pay for the remainder of the money owed.

Besides, credit card companies don’t care about divorce decrees!

Many couples get joint credit cards in both of their names when they’re married. This makes it harder to prove that any money owed was specifically spent by one spouse, on items that benefitted only them. So it isn’t realistic to assume that only one of you will get stuck with the debt. And then there’s the fact that credit card companies don’t care who spent the money, they just want someone – anyone – to pay it back! So as far as they’re concerned, if both you and your spouse were named on the credit card account, and then you get divorced and the court assigned that debt to your ex, you’re still fair game. If your ex doesn’t pay the portion the court assigned them, the credit card company will likely come after you for that money! That’s an important issue for your divorce lawyer to deal with in drafting your final Judgment of Divorce. 

Property division should be handled by an experienced family lawyer 

Property division (which is what they call it when your assets and debts get divided during a divorce) is like a lot of other things in divorce – often complicated and frustrating. But you don’t have to do this alone (and really, you shouldn’t!) At The Kronzek Firm, our skilled family law attorneys have decades of experience handling every aspect of divorce, from custody and visitation, to alimony and asset division. So if you need help working through the hard parts (and they’re all hard parts in a divorce!), call The Kronzek Firm at (248) 479-6200. We’re here 24/7 to help you.