The divorce process forces you to spend a good amount of time learning more about your assets and debts. It's common to focus most of your attention on property division, such as who gets the house and cars, but you shouldn't sweep your debt under the rug. Neglecting to tackle this head on can result in additional stress and tension as you work through your divorce.
In many cases, the couples with the most assets are the ones with the most debt. This is particularly true when it comes to credit card debt.
There are many ways to approach credit card debt, with these strategies among the most common:
- Pay off joint credit card debt together: Many divorcing couples overlook this approach, as they're not getting along well enough to have a meaningful conversation. However, it's often the best idea, as it allows you to eliminate your credit card debt and move into the divorce process without it hanging over your head. Even if it's difficult to do, talk to your spouse about this.
- Use balance transfer credit cards: If you don't have the desire or funds to pay off joint credit card debt together, you can each use a balance transfer credit card to take on half the balance. For example, if you have $20,000 in credit card debt, you will be responsible for $10,000 and so will the other person.
- Cancel all joint credit cards: Leaving these accounts open is a mistake. Not only does it invite your soon-to-be ex-spouse to use the card, but you may be tempted to do the same.
- File for bankruptcy: If you're facing serious debt and are still married, a bankruptcy filing may help. This allows you to eliminate or reduce your debt, thus taking some financial stress off your plate.
There is no right or wrong way to handle joint credit card debt in divorce, but you must have a plan of action in place. This will allow you to take the right steps at the right time, all while protecting your legal rights.
For more information on property division, debt division and other divorce-related topics, browse the many pages of our blog and website devoted to this subject matter.