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Can joint credit cards pose problems after divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 23, 2020 | Family Law

Like many couples, you may share a credit card with your spouse. If a divorce looms on the horizon, you should consider how to remove yourself from the card. If your joint card remains active with your former spouse still a co-owner following your divorce, it might cause you problems. 

Some couples share a card with one spouse owning the card and allowing the other spouse to sign on as an authorized user. But if you and your spouse jointly own the card, it makes you and your spouse responsible for the debt. This obligation can create serious debt issues for you after your divorce. 

Burdening you with debt 

According to the Motley Fool, even if you and your spouse divorce, you will remain responsible for the debt incurred on your jointly owned card. If your ex-spouse racks up expenses on the card, you will continue to receive bills for the outstanding amounts. If your divorce turns spiteful, your ex may spend large amounts just to burden you with the bills. 

You also cannot control if your former spouse declares bankruptcy. A bankruptcy court may absolve your ex of the need to pay the card debt, but since you have not declared bankruptcy, your card issuer may come after you for the full amount. The bankruptcy filing may also impact your credit history even though you did not file for bankruptcy. 

Working out possible solutions 

You might try to work out an arrangement in the divorce settlement to keep the card active while establishing who pays off future expenses. However, this agreement is unlikely to bind your card issuer. If your ex-spouse stops going along with the deal, your card company will likely come after you for the debt. You might go back to court to compel your former spouse to make debt payments, but this may take time and additional expense. 

Problems such as these are why closing out a joint credit card and starting fresh with an individual card may of greater benefit. It may take time to implement this solution, particularly if your credit history might not support your own card, but it may prevent you from building up burdensome debt because of the actions of your former spouse.