Dividing Credit Card Debt
It’s not uncommon for couples to accumulate not only assets, but also debt during their marriage. Unfortunately, the process of dividing marital property and debts is often much more difficult than accumulating it, so if you are going through a divorce and have questions about how much debt you will be responsible for paying after the marriage is dissolved, you should consider speaking with an experienced property division attorney who can advise you.
Paying off/Transferring Debt Prior to Divorce
Many couples who decide to dissolve their marriage try to avoid the complicated process of dividing debt by paying off any joint credit card debt before the divorce is finalized. When this is not possible, the parties may be able to divide the debt and transfer it to credit cards that are in their individual names and are not part of a joint account. In either case it is extremely important to keep records of all credit card transactions made after separation, as keeping receipts ensures that the parties will be able to demonstrate when credit card debt was accrued and by which parties. Finally, it is also critical to file documentation with the court regarding both individual and joint credit card debt as soon as possible in the divorce filing process.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that parties to a divorce will have their marital property divided equitably. This also applies to debts, with the exception of two categories, premarital and non-marital debts. Premarital debts are those incurred by a spouse before a marriage took place, including credit card debts that are only in one spouse’s name. As long as the other spouse never used the cards, Florida courts consider these debts to be the sole responsibility of the spouse whose name was on the card. This means that the spouse who incurred the debt before the marriage will continue to be held responsible for paying off those debts once the marriage is dissolved.
In Florida, debts that are considered non-marital will usually only be the responsibility of the spouse who incurred them. Non-marital debts include those that are listed in only one spouse’s name, are used as separate property, and are not paid for with marital funds. For example, if one spouse acquires a credit card that is only listed in his or her name and none of the charges contributed to the marriage in any way, the debt could be considered non-marital and the sole responsibility of the person who took out the credit card.
Unlike the preceding examples, credit cards that are opened in both spouses’ names or that were used to purchase items for the family are considered marital debt and so can be divided equitably in the event of a divorce. In fact, this is true even if the card is not in both names, but both parties charged on it during the marriage. If a couple is unable to come to an agreement about how the debt should be divided, a court will step in and divide the debts acting under the presumption that debts and assets should be split equally. However, judges have discretion to change division based on the duration of the marriage and financial contributions made by each spouse.
Call an Experienced Property Division Lawyer Today
If you and your spouse have credit card debt and are considering a divorce, please contact dedicated property division attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to learn more about your legal options. Our Fort Lauderdale team can assist you immediately with your case.