Dividing Credit Card Debt After Divorce


Credit card debt isn't fun to deal with under any circumstances, but dividing this debt as part of your Pasadena divorce can present special challenges.

California is a community property state. Community property laws are most often discussed in terms of helping to divide assets, but the same principles apply to debt as well. In a community property state, debt incurred during the marriage is shared. This includes credit card debt, even if the account is only in your spouse's name or if you're just listed as an authorized user on the account. The only way you wouldn't have some responsibility for the debt is if the account is solely in your spouse's name and only includes charges before your marriage.

Credit card debt creates special problems when you're divorcing because a default of the cardholder can hurt your credit score and make it harder to get back on your feet as a single person. The best solution is to pay off the debt using marital assets or apply for two individual cards and transfer your share and your spouse's share to the new cards. The key is to make sure that you are no longer linked to your spouse by this shared obligation.

If you are currently separated, but have not yet filed for divorce, you should call the credit card company and ask to have your name taken off the account as an authorized user. Some credit card companies will do this upon your request, but others may require your spouse to make the call.

If you did not live in a community property state, you would not be liable for your spouse's credit card debt if you were merely an authorized user on the account. You would need to be listed as joint cardholders to incur equal responsibility for the debt.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com if you have questions about how debt is divided as part of your divorce settlement. Our experienced Pasadena matrimonial lawyers are eager to provide any assistance that you might need during your California divorce.