Separating a household is difficult and often the divorcing couple may find themselves at odds over the smallest things. The details can be overwhelming. One or perhaps both husband and wife will need to relocate to a different home, checking accounts must be established in separate names, savings divided etc.Turning utilities off and on or changing the contact information on the accounts, forwarding mail and other tasks add stress to the need to inform family and friends of the decision to divorce.
Most married couples hold joint credit card accounts. To the credit company both partners are equally responsible for the debt on those credit cards. The best way to divide credit balances is for one partner to pay his or her share to the other or to arrive at a payment amount and include that in the divorce settlement.
That would be a civil way to handle the problem but often there is a lack of civility when two people are going through a divorce. There is blame, anger, hurt, and perhaps guilt associated with the end of the marriage and behaving in a calm, sensible way is not always possible for one or both partners.
Another way to decide who is responsible for payment is to argue the case in court and let the judge decide which debts each partner will be responsible for. This is not the ideal solution unless there is enough money involved to totally pay off the credit card debts and cancel those joint accounts.
Some banks may be willing to work with you to divide the credit balances into two separate accounts. If both partners have good credit and income this is a workable solution as the credit card company would rather negotiate to find a solution that ensures the debt is paid.
Perhaps the best path for couples who can’t afford to eliminate credit debt at the time of divorce but agree to split the debt is to take advantage of a special credit offer that comes in the mail almost every day. These offers usually allow you to transfer a balance from an old card to the new account with no fee.
Each person would open a new account in his and her own name and then transfer the agreed amount of credit debt they are responsible for to the new account. The joint account can then be closed.
This eliminates a common problem faced during unfriendly divorces. Even if required by the court the person responsible for paying the debt might fail to do so. If the accounts are left as they were during the marriage that can reflect badly on the credit account of the former spouse.
If included in the court’s divorce decree that information might be removed by the Credit Bureaus but the time and effort required to solve the problem will only drag out the trauma of the divorce.
How the credit debt is divided will depend on the income of each person involved. If the division of debt is decided in court a judge may also look at which partner is most responsible for adding to the credit card debt. This can be a shock to someone who went on a spending spree in the belief the former spouse would have to pay the bill.