For Ohio spouses who decide to divorce, financial issues may weigh heavily on their minds. While many people immediately turn their minds to dividing assets like real estate and retirement accounts, the division of debt can be just as critical. Not all credit card debt racked up during a marriage is automatically assumed to be the responsibility of both partners. At the same time, the debt being in one person’s name is not necessarily decisive.
However, joint credit card debt is very common. Many married couples have joint accounts and cards, for which each partner is individually and jointly responsible. People heading toward divorce should be sure to close joint credit cards in order to prevent the accumulation of additional joint debt. In addition, it can be important to make sure that no joint debt remains in both parties’ names after the divorce has been finalized. Balances on joint credit cards can be paid off as part of the asset division process, or they can be moved into the name of one party alone.
While the divorce decree may be clear about who is responsible for which debts, creditors do not need to abide by that order so long as the debt remains joint. If one former spouse defaults or declares bankruptcy, the creditor can pursue the other party. It can even affect the other spouse’s credit record. While a court can enforce the divorce decree, this can be practically difficult if the other partner doesn’t have the money to pay a judgment.
People who are concerned about the financial effects of divorce should consider coming up with a strategy. A family law attorney could work with a divorcing spouse to negotiate a fair settlement on a range of issues, including property division and spousal support.