Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Credit Card Debt After Divorce?

 Posted on May 20, 2024 in Property Division

Kane County, IL divorce lawyerOne of the main issues that divorcing couples face is how to divide debt. Are both spouses responsible for each other’s debts? Are only certain debts the responsibility of both parties or are all of them? Does one spouse need to make mortgage payments if the other spouse’s name is on the house? What if one spouse has more money than the other spouse to pay for the debt?

The answers to those questions depend on whether the debt is considered marital debt or non-marital debt. 

This article will discuss what marital debt is and how it is divided. Consulting an experienced divorce attorney is a great way to make sure you are not saddled with debt that is not yours.

What is Marital Debt?

Like marital property, marital debt refers to debt that belongs to both spouses. For something to be considered marital debt, however, it must have certain characteristics. Marital debt is a financial obligation that:

  • Was incurred during the marriage

  • Benefited both spouses

  • Exists at the time of divorce

Examples of such debts include car loans, mortgages, and credit card debt. If your spouse ran up debt on his or her credit card by making purchases that benefited both of you — such as groceries or utility payments — then you will share responsibility for that debt.

How is Marital Debt Divided?

In Illinois, marital debt is divided equitably, not equally. This means that a court will divide the debt among spouses in a fair way, not necessarily 50/50. When deciding how marital debt should be divided, a judge will look at several factors, such as:

  • The income of each spouse

  • The potential earning ability of each spouse: If one spouse was a stay-at-home parent throughout the marriage, he or she is likely to have a harder time paying off the debt.

  • Who benefited the most from the debt

  • Who will continue to benefit from the debt

Can Creditors Come After Me?

Creditors can pursue both spouses to collect marital debt even if the divorce order assigns debt payments to only one spouse. However, a creditor can choose to pursue only one spouse for the debt. For example, if you and your spouse are both given responsibility to pay off debt in your spouse’s name and neither of you makes payments, the credit card company may decide to collect from your spouse since his or her name is on the card even though you share the debt.

However, that can go both ways. If your name is on the mortgage, the bank may choose to collect the debt from you even if your spouse is exclusively responsible for making mortgage payments under the divorce decree.

Contact a Kane County, IL Marital Debt Lawyer

Marital debt means that both spouses are saddled with debt, but only one party may end up paying for it. That party could be you or your spouse, but either way, you should do everything you can to discharge that debt before divorce. And with whatever debt needs to be managed during divorce, hiring the right Geneva, Illinois marital debt attorney can prevent you from having more debt than you should.

At The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates, we will not only fight to protect you from debt that is not yours but to also make sure your debt is divided fairly. Schedule a consultation with our skilled attorneys and we will walk you through all your options when it comes to marital debt. Call 630-232-9700 for first-class legal services today.

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