If you are contemplating or in the process of divorcing your spouse in Raleigh or Wake County, one unfortunate fact should guide the way you approach joint credit card debt in Raleigh, NC: credit card companies in North Carolina are not bound by North Carolina divorce decrees. This means that they can go after you for jointly incurred debt even if the Wake County Court orders your former spouse to pay it.
Ideally, you and your spouse can reach an agreement early in the process to pay off the joint credit cards with joint savings or a home equity line of credit in a jointly owned house. Another option is to divide the debt on joint credit cards in a reasonable way and transfer it to cards in each partner’s name. In any case, you should begin taking steps to remove or limit your liability for your partner’s debts as soon as possible. Unless you and your partner have agreed otherwise, cancel all joint credit cards to stop any financial hemorrhaging that may be occurring.
Generally speaking, a credit card company cannot go after you for debts incurred in the sole name of your spouse. But beware of the inverse corollary: they can’t go after your spouse for debts incurred in your sole name—even if your spouse incurs them as an additional card holder with permission to charge on your account! So (again, unless agreed otherwise) remove your partner as an additional card holder with charging privileges on any of your own sole credit accounts.
In the event that you can’t avoid carrying joint debt into your post-divorce life, you can structure your divorce agreement to protect yourself. “If the cards are in both names and the divorce decree directs one person to pay them, that person is responsible for the debt in the eyes of the divorce court,” attorney Sember says. “If the creditor comes after the other person, he or she can go back to divorce court and require the responsible person to indemnify him or her.”
Certainly, a Raleigh, NC separation agreement may provide, or the Wake County Court may order, that your spouse take responsibility for some or all of your joint credit card debt depending on the circumstances. If a credit card is in both of your names and an equitable distribution order directs your ex to pay them, your ex is responsible for the debt in the eyes of the Raleigh divorce court.
Here again, however, remember that should your ex file for bankruptcy or just not pay what he or she is supposed to pay, your creditors can go after you for the full amount of the debt, plus interest and penalties. You can go back to divorce court and seek indemnification from the debt, but going back to court can be time-consuming and is almost always expensive.
Think ahead and take the proper steps to protect yourself from joint credit card debt sooner rather than later. For help handling credit card debt and divorce, contact The Law Corner at 919-424-8319. If you are in the early stages of divorce we can help you create a course of action that will help to protect you during and after the divorce. The experienced Raleigh Divorce Lawyers at The Law Corner are able to walk you through the process and help take the stress out of this difficult time.
The Law Corner divorce attorneys in Raleigh can help explain the divorce process to you and help you with other divorce related issues, to include, but not limited to, the following:
Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
The Law Corner Attorneys help people all over Wake County to include the following areas: Knightdale, Wake Forest, Raleigh, Morrisville, Apex, Wendell, Zebulon, New Hope, Cary, Rolesville, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Garner.