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How can divorcing spouses handle joint credit card debt?

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2020 | Divorce |

Tennessee couples ending a marriage know the feeling of enduring scrutiny of all areas of their lives that typically causes both parties a great deal of stress and emotional pain. Likely, most would agree that during the divorce process, the sorting of financial affairs can be especially time-consuming and complicated. Unfortunately, in many cases, divorced individuals end up taking on more debt than they expected, as not only are assets divided, but also liabilities. Divorcing people can prepare themselves for the process of untangling joint credit card debt by knowing a few important facts.

Who pays for what?

During the discovery process in a divorce, each party must complete a statement listing all assets and liabilities. In Tennessee, courts follow common law rule when it comes to division of debt, meaning an individual will be typically held responsible for any debt solely in their name and debt incurred on a joint account listing the individual as an authorized user. Next, the divorcing couple and their attorneys will negotiate and determine the amount of debt for which each party is responsible. Ultimately, a judge will give a final ruling, and the result will be included in the final divorce decree.

How do creditors play a role?

In some cases, regardless of the state’s laws, a judge may order one party to pay debt that belongs to the divorcing spouse. However, even in this case, creditors will still consider the party whose name is on the account responsible for the debt. The divorce decree can include terms that protect a divorcing individual from the other party’s debt, but creditors may still pursue that person in any case. Before any of these scenarios happen, perhaps when divorce is imminent, people can take steps to protect themselves by addressing these scenarios directly.

Certainly, no divorcing Tennessee resident wants to put out more money during what can already be a costly process, nor would anyone be pleased to add even more time, effort and stress to a divorce. However, like any part of the divorce process, people can often improve things for themselves by knowing a few important facts. In any case, divorcing individuals should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can advise them on the best course of action moving forward.