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Steele Law Offices, LLC

Your home town attorney for life’s legal matters

Photo of Randall P. Steele

Personally investing in each client’s legal
objectives and achieving those goals together.

Personally investing in each client’s legal
objectives and achieving those goals together.

Establishing credit card debt responsibility during a divorce

On Behalf of | Dec 16, 2019 | Firm News |

Illinois couples finding themselves deeply burdened by credit card debt may begin to consider its effects on their marital relationship. Data from the Federal Reserve reveals that household debt in America has reached approximately $14 trillion, as reported by CNN. This may lead to some debt-plagued couples giving consideration to a divorce to help find financial relief and build a new future. 

Unlike filing for bankruptcy protection, however, a divorce does not automatically eliminate outstanding household debts. If an individual opened a credit card account in his or her name and both spouses used it for household necessities, a family court judge may order both individuals to pay off the balance. 

Debt responsibility 

To dispute a purchase allegedly not made on behalf of a household, an individual may need to provide receipts or statements to show the other spouse is fully and solely responsible for the debt. The credit card issuer, however, has a legal right to pursue payment from the account owner regardless of how the debt incurred. 

Joint credit card accounts 

Divorce proceedings may require couples with jointly owned credit card accounts to determine who will continue paying the balance after the marriage dissolves. As noted by U.S. News & World Report, a divorce decree may hold an individual solely or jointly responsible for debts incurred during a marriage even if it differs from the original agreement made with the credit card issuer. 

Payment default 

When a family court judge orders an ex-spouse to make payments on household debts, a default may result in a breach of a court order. The breach, however, does not prevent a credit card issuer from legally pursuing a debt. Divorced individuals who find themselves required to pay the debt by the credit card company may then file an action against an ex-spouse for non-payment under the terms of the court order. 

Issues such as alimony, child support or other financial arrangements may play a significant role in the divorce negotiations regarding how much debt an ex-spouse will be responsible for.