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How can you divide debt in divorce?

In most marriages, debt isn't unheard of. Mortgages and school loans are common, as are credit card debts. Sometimes, these credit debts are in each individual's name, but other times they are joint accounts. When you share a joint debt with your spouse, it can be difficult to get rid of that debt. Unless you can get your name off the debt, then the creditor could come after you if your spouse decides not to pay.

Usually, when you accrue debt during marriage, it's the responsibility of both parties to pay it off. However, if you only have a card for the account but are not the account holder, then you won't be held liable for the account itself. In divorce, your spouse might argue that the debt is still shared, but you don't have to worry about being legally bound to the debt by creditors.

If you share debts that you want to split, there are some options for separating your accounts. First, start by cancelling all credit cards that are shared, so that you can prevent more debt from being accrued. Then, look into taking out a credit card in your own name to take on your portion of the debt. If you and your spouse can pay off the card and transfer the debt to your own individual accounts, that's better in the long term.

If you can afford to, paying off the debt before divorce is ideal. If that's not possible and you're struggling with high amounts of debt, it may be possible to use bankruptcy to get a fresh start before your divorce. Your attorney can help you decide which option might work best for your situation.

Source: CreditCards.com, "Dividing credit card debt in divorce," Amy E. Buttell, accessed March 31, 2017

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