Somerville Family Law Firm: Dividing Credit Card Debt in a New Jersey Divorce

There is a short answer and a longer answer to the question, “How do we divide credit card debt if we get divorced?”  Both are important to understand.

Under New Jersey divorce law, debts must be divided fairly between the spouses.  When it comes to credit card debt, it generally works like this:

  • Balances on credit cards held in both spouses’ names must be divided equally between the spouses
  • Balances on credit cards held in one spouse’s name only should be the responsibility of only the cardholder, unless it can be shown that the debt was incurred for marital-type expenses (things like clothes for kids, joint family vacations, car repairs, etc.)
  • Any charges made after the couple has separated are the responsibility of the person who charged the debt.

In the best-case scenario, you and your spouse will pay off all your joint debt, including credit cards, as part of your divorce agreement.  Your divorce attorney can explain the different ways to achieve this goal, including refinancing a credit card in your name only, to take on half the joint debt, as well as other options.

Beginning your single life without any joint credit card debt is important because the credit card companies are not obligated by divorce decrees.  This means that you could start getting collection calls and letters if your ex-spouse doesn’t make on-time payments to a credit card debt that he or she agreed to pay.  While it is possible to write your divorce decree so that you can force your ex to pay, it is expensive and takes a lot of time to go back to court to enforce the decree if it is not done correctly.

If you have no choice but to carry joint debt into your post-marriage life, your divorce attorney can help make sure that your financial stability is as well-protected as possible.  Even so, you will have to keep up-to-date on your ex’s credit card payments as long as the joint debt exists.

Contact Lyons & Associates for Answers to Questions About Division of Debt in New Jersey Divorces

At the Somerville family law firm of Lyons & Associates, P.C., we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to each of our clients, in every family law case we handle. We will work with you to resolve your property division questions, including the common question of how to divide jointly held debt.  To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.