The end of a marriage in Illinois doesn’t necessarily mean the end of joint credit card debt obligations. This is because credit card companies aren’t legally bound by divorce decrees. Therefore, it’s entirely possible that an ex could be held responsible if a former spouse fails to pay a debt that was jointly incurred. While it is possible to add stipulations to a divorce agreement that would force an ex to pay their share, returning to court can be a time-consuming and expensive process.
For this reason, it’s often recommended that individuals going through a divorce make an effort to leave a marriage without lingering debt obligations. If joint debt remains after a marriage and an ex files for bankruptcy or simply refuse to pay the debt, a creditor can go after the other party for the full amount owed plus additional fees for interest and penalties.
In some cases, a former spouse may not be responsible for debt incurred on cards that were only in their partner’s name. The only exception is in states with community property laws. Canceling all joint credit cards and dividing up remaining debt and transferring the agreed upon portions for each ex-spouse to new, separate cards in each party’s name, are some of the steps that may minimize post-divorce credit card debt issues. It can also be helpful for divorcing individuals to keep good records since debt incurred on credit cards after the date of legal separation is usually the responsibility of the party who made the purchases.
If it’s not possible to avoid jointly accumulated debt after a divorce, a lawyer may be able to structure the divorce decree in a way that clearly states who is responsible for what debt. So, if a former spouse doesn’t meet their obligations under the decree and a creditor comes after the other party, they can go back to court and require the responsible party to pay. Another step a lawyer may recommend is filing documentation with the court about joint debt early in the separation to prevent the other spouse from adding to the total.