If you’re like most Americans today, then you likely have credit card debt. With an estimated 126.2 million American households, “the average household has around $8,161 in revolving debt, approximately $6,577 of which is credit card debt” [Source: Card Rates].The fact is, many individuals, and couples, today rely on their credit cards to get them through those rough periods when their monthly income just isn’t cutting it. And for those that bring in enough on each paycheck, they may use their credit cards to make larger than usual purchases or simply spend on their cards in an effort to raise their credit score
Regardless of why people use their credit cards, the fact is, they use them.
So, what happens when a couple that has acquired credit card debt in both spouses’ name decides to divorce? Is one party left having to pay the debt or both? What if one spouse agrees to manage a credit card and lapses on a payment? What will happen?
If you are planning on getting a divorce in Orlando, FL or are going through the process right now, this may be one of your concerns. The fact is, no one wants to be left on the hook for paying something they weren’t 100 % responsible for nor do they want debtors harassing them with daily phone calls and letters in the mail. So, to help address your concerns, below is an explanation as to what happens to credit card debt when a couple in Florida decides to divorce.
Understanding Florida’s Divorce Laws
The first thing you need to understand is that in the state of Florida, both assets and debts that were acquired in the marriage will be divided equally among the parties involved, “unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution[Source: Florida Statute §61.075]. This means that if you have credit cards in both you and your spouse’s name, you are both liable for any balance the card holds. Now, the court, given you and your spouse aren’t able to agree on how your debts should be split on your own, will take the initiative and divide your credit card debt down the middle. Again, if you can prove why it shouldn’t do this, then you may be freed from some liability of having to pay anything that is owed back.
Once the credit card debt is divided, it is important that both parties live up to their end of the bargain. The reality is, if one party fails to make a payment or neglects to pay on a credit card that has a balance at all, both you and your spouse will be affected by this. Not only will a missed payment or no payment at all have an adverse effect on your credit score, but the debtors could very well take legal action against you in an effort to recover the money that is owed to them.
So, the best thing you can do if you have marital credit card debt is hire a knowledgeable Orlando, FL divorce attorney who can ensure the debt is divided fairly and that your spouse understands that any breach of duty to pay could result in the two of you having to come back to court to address the issue.
Is there anything I can do now before I file for divorce to help make the division of credit card debt easier?
If you have credit cards in your name and your spouse’s, you might want to consider paying off any accounts and closing them out. You may also wish to contact the company to see if you can have either party’s name removed off the account if they didn’t contribute to spending any money on the card. In the event you have cards with a zero balance, you might consider taking the same steps mentioned above as you wouldn’t want your spouse to rack up a bill after the divorce has been finalized resulting in you having to pay it.
Something else you can do to prepare for your divorce is hire a divorce lawyer in Orlando, FL who will be there to help you through each phase of the divorce, including getting your credit card debt divided up fairly. If you would like to consult with a legal expert in your area now, don’t wait to contact The Aikin Family Law Group.
The Aikin Family Law Group is located at:
111 N Orange Ave, Suite 800
Orlando, FL 32801