Traditionally, the division of property during a divorce has mostly been focused on what to do with the family home, investments, furniture and vehicles. Today, with so many Americans owing substantial amounts on their credit cards, the divorce process often includes the division of debts.
Certain types of credit card debt belong to only one spouse and therefore aren’t affected by the divorce. Premarital debts, those incurred before the marriage began and only involving one of the spouses, are typically not considered marital debts, meaning that a court doesn’t need to divide them. Similarly, if one only one spouse uses a particular card during the marriage and does not use the card to contribute to the marriage, it may be considered a nonmarital debt. Business credit lines often meet these criteria.
Any credit card opened during the marriage or used by both parties is typically considered a marital debt. Marital debts are distributed just like marital property under Florida law — a judge will seek to apportion them fairly, but not necessarily equally. This is known as equitable distribution. The court may assign the responsibility of paying the bill to one party while assigning the actual debt to both.
No matter who is responsible for the debt under a judge’s ruling, it may still be your responsibility to make sure bills are paid. Credit card companies don’t care that you are divorced — if your name is on the account, you may be responsible for both back debts and for any charges that your former spouse incurs using the card. Even if you don’t have credit card debt, it is important to close all joint accounts as soon as possible in a divorce.
For help understanding how debts impact the divorce process, consult the Tampa Bay-area divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A.