In a divorce case, are credit cards considered marital debt?

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In a divorce case, are credit cards considered marital debt?

My understand is that cards are only considered such if they are joint. But, my understanding is also that a spouse may ask a judge to consider anything as marital debt. So in the case of the credit cards, if one can prove that what was purchased was for marital benifit, such as the property tax on marital home, mortgage payment on marital home, utilities on marital home, when the card holder was not living there but the other spouse was, agreed purchaes between parties. Should these cards then at least be presented to the judge for consideration?

Asked on November 13, 2012 under Family Law, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Typically, the financial burden usually lies with the person who opened the account. So as long as the account is solely in 1 spouse's name, there should be no problem in determining liability. The law differs in community property states where, as a general rule, both spouses share equally in credit debt no matter whose name the card was opened in.

That being said, things are different for joint accounts. The rules on such accounts vary by state, but in most cases, marital debt includes any debt incurred during the marriage regardless of whose name actually appears on the title. So for joint accounts, whatever credit card debt you built up while still married, you will be at least partially responsible for those debts upon divorce.

Exceptions to the above, however, do exist. If one of the former spouses is solely responsible for most of the credit card activity. In such cases, a court may not consider that a marital debt marital, and will order that the responsible party pay the debt in full.


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