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How Is Joint Credit Card Debt Handled During An Illinois Divorce?

Chicago divorce attorney processing credit card payment for legal representation during a Chicago divorce.
During a divorce, the parties often contest the division of property. Parties contest this issue not only because disagreement exists over division of valuable assets and property, but also because many parties disagree over the division of marital debts they share. Under Illinois equitable distribution laws, divorcing couples must equitably share both assets and debts (e.g. each spouse takes responsibility for half of the credit card debt).

Ways to Protect Yourself

In attempting to determine how credit card debt should be divided, multiple issues can arise. Because distributing your credit card debt involves you, your soon-to-be ex spouse, and the credit card company, taking the appropriate steps to protect yourself from any action your ex spouse might take without your authorization. Below are a few tips on how to insulate yourself and your credit card debt from your spouse’s share of the credit card debt.
  • Transfer your half to an account you hold alone. Both you and your soon-to-be ex spouse should transfer your respective halves of the shared credit card debt to separate, not jointly held, accounts. For instance, if together you and your soon-to-be ex spouse share $10,000 worth of credit card debt on a joint credit card, each of you should transfer your half of debt to a new card held solely in your own name. By transferring your half of debt, this effectively “pays off” the amount owed jointly and reassigns the separate halves of debt to each of you. You should have your soon-to-be ex spouse sign a written agreement that sets forth how the shared credit card debt will be handled.
  • Close your jointly-held accounts. After you each transfer the balance, close any jointly-held accounts or remove one spouse’s name from those jointly-held accounts. By doing this you prevent your soon-to-be former spouse from incurring debt that you could be held accountable for.
  • Diligently record your spending. Spouses are jointly responsible for debts incurred during the marriage and divorce. Therefore, carefully recording your expenses during this time is important because creating a record demonstrates that purchases were for the family subsequently ensuring that your soon-to-be ex spouse is still accountable for those expenses as well; and
  • Hire a divorce attorney. A divorce attorney is familiar with the potential pitfalls associated with jointly-held credit card debt and can advise you on how to best protect yourself.
Taking steps to protect yourself is important if you are concerned that your soon-to-be ex spouse may attempt to shirk his or her half of the shared credit card debt. Further, if your soon-to-be ex spouse goes on a shopping spree, you can be held liable for those debts and it can severely impact your credit for many years after the divorce.

Work with a Chicago Divorce Attorney

Marital debt constitutes a large part of many divorces, but few people think about shared debts until they have filed for divorce. Debts, like any other property, must be shared equitably between spouses. The team of experienced divorce attorneys at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group can provide you with guidance and answer any questions you may have regarding your divorce. Please call us at (312) 585-6604 to schedule your consultation.

There are many factors to consider when contemplating divorce, and a pre-divorce planning session can help you begin to plan for a divorce. Please contact the professionals at the Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group by calling (312) 585-6604 or clicking here to schedule a consultation.

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Downtown Chicago/Loop Office
Fax:312-283-8636
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Fax:312-283-8636
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Fax:312-283-8636
Lake Forest Office

100 Saunders Rd.
Suite 150
Lake Forest, IL 60045

Lisle Office

3333 Warrenville Rd.
Suite 200
Lisle, IL 60532

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