Dividing debt during a divorce

Dividing debt during a divorce

| Oct 30, 2020 | Family Law |

These days, as many as half of marriages end in divorce. Couples in Illinois are often very concerned about how their assets will be divided in the judgment. What they may not want to dwell on is the division of the debts they accumulated over the course of the marriage. Although it might seem straightforward to assign the payment of debts, this can get complicated when it comes to credit cards.

Authorized users and joint accounts

In a marriage, people often combine all or part of their finances. This can include getting joint credit cards. In some cases, people will even add their spouse as an authorized user on a credit card account that’s issued in their name only. This means that judges often have to find ways to split the responsibility for credit card debt in a divorce.

Illinois is a common law state. This means that, in theory, only the named holder of the credit card is responsible for the debt incurred on it. However, married couples sometimes use a single card for joint expenses like utilities, groceries or other purchases. Sometimes, they both share the perks like points, too. The judge will have some discretion and can order a person who’s not named on the card to pay some of the debt.

Unfortunately, not every spouse plays by these rules. In the event that an ex-spouse doesn’t pay their share of the debt, credit card issuers may pursue anyone named on the contract. Creditors may decide not to go by the judge’s decree. However, it is possible for people to sue ex-spouses for non-payment of their share of a debt. It may be a good idea to retain an experienced family law attorney if you find yourself in this situation.