When you’re going through a divorce, there are a lot of different things that you need to address – not the least of which is the management of joint credit cards and credit card debt, which can quickly become a source of stress and contention in your divorce if not handled wisely.
The first thing you need to understand is that the credit card companies won’t care who ran up the bill or who was allocated a certain debt in the divorce. If you have joint cards, the credit card companies will treat you and your spouse alike – and a failure to pay will negatively affect your credit, even if you’re not the person who is supposed to pay the bill.
Here’s how to navigate this situation
Before making any decisions, collect all relevant financial information. This includes account statements, credit card balances, interest rates and payment histories for all joint credit cards. Having a complete picture of your financial situation will help you make informed choices. Then:
- Freeze any joint cards to prevent additional charges.
- If your spouse is an authorized user on any of your cards, remove them.
- Have your spouse remove you as an authorized user on their cards, too.
- Close any joint cards that have a zero balance.
Once all that has been handled, you can address the debt that remains on any joint cards through negotiations with your spouse. Once you’ve agreed on who will pay what amount, insist that the debt either be paid off immediately (if feasible) or that the debt be transferred to individual accounts so that those joint cards can also be closed.
Untangling your credit from your spouse’s credit can be a daunting proposition, but it just takes a methodical approach and some time. Legal guidance can help you sort through even more financial situations as your divorce proceeds.