The decision to end a marriage is difficult. Once made, couples in Connecticut have multiple decisions to make before they have completed their divorce. Questions such as who will stay in the family home and how child care will be divided are obvious. However, how debt will be divided is frequently overlooked in the planning stages of ending a marriage. Who will be responsible for credit card debt, for example, is an important question, potentially with significant implications.
People with a credit card are contractually obligated to repay any debt in their name. This includes debt they may not have personally accrued but was instead created by an authorized user of the card, such as their spouse. In a divorce, a person can also be responsible for credit card debt held in their spouse’s name when the debt was the result of household expenditures, for example. In some cases, the court will determine who is responsible for what debt or the couple can create an agreement on their own.
However, if the responsible spouse does not abide by the agreement, the credit card company can still sue the other spouse, if they are the liable party on the credit card; even a divorce decree does not change the original contract with the credit card company. Credit card companies are typically unwilling to remove a person’s name from the account, but the responsible spouse may be able to transfer the balance to a new card. Some couples also choose to include indemnification clauses in their agreement, stipulating the consequences of failure to pay assigned debt.
Once a divorce seems inevitable, there are steps a person can take to protect him or herself. Because credit card debt can play a significant role in a person’s overall financial debt, those seeking to end a marriage in Connecticut often benefit from consulting with an experienced family law attorney.