If you are or have been married, chances are you have opened at least one credit card with a spouse. Though there are a number of people in Ohio and across the country who choose to keep their finances separately from their spouses’, most people combine their finances. There is nothing wrong with that, but that does mean should the relationship break up, the debts on these credit cards will be subject to property division; splitting the marital assets must also mean splitting the marital debts.

So, let’s say you and your husband or wife have a two joint credit cards, and you owe $1,000 on each of them, but then you decide to divorce. The simple thing to do is for you to pay off one of the credit cards and for your spouse to pay of the other. But what happens if your spouse fails to pay off his or her credit card?

If you are indeed joint owners of the account, the credit card company will turn to you to pay off the debt. You can always send them a copy of your divorce settlement in which you and your ex-spouse agree that the account in question is his or her responsibility, but the credit card company is not beholden to your divorce decree. Since you are on the account you are responsible. The same would be true if your ex declares bankruptcy.

Of course, there are ways to get around being held responsible and an experienced family law lawyer can help to create backup plans that will protect you from an irresponsible or vindictive ex-spouse.

Source: FOX Business, “Debt and Divorce: 5 Steps to Make a Clear Credit Split,” Dan Papandrea, July 14, 2014