Divorce can bring a multitude of complex issues, and dealing with joint debts such as credit card debt can be particularly challenging. In New Jersey, the principle of equitable distribution governs how marital assets and debts are divided, including credit card debt.
Equitable Distribution and Credit Card Debt
Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal; instead, it means fair. When it comes to credit card debt, the court considers several factors, such as:
- When the debt was accrued: Typically, debt accumulated during the marriage is considered marital debt, to be divided between both parties. Debt incurred before the marriage or after separation may be considered separate debt.
- The purpose of the debt: If the debt was used for marital expenses (e.g., groceries, vacations, home improvements), it would likely be divided between both parties. However, if the debt was accrued for non-marital purposes (e.g., personal luxury items, an affair), the court may assign the debt to the spouse who incurred it.
- The ability of each spouse to pay the debt: The court will also consider each spouse’s income, earning capacity, and financial situation.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself from being unfairly burdened with credit card debt in a divorce:
- Close joint accounts: To prevent additional joint debt from being accrued, consider closing joint credit cards or removing your spouse as an authorized user on your card.
- Keep records: Maintain records of credit card statements and purchases, particularly if you believe your spouse is accumulating debt irresponsibly or for non-marital purposes.
- Seek legal advice: A skilled family law attorney can provide advice on handling joint debt and can advocate for a fair division of debt in your divorce proceedings.
Ultimately, dealing with credit card debt in a divorce can be complex, and the court’s decision will depend on the specifics of your situation. It’s crucial to understand your legal rights and options, and to seek professional legal counsel to navigate these complexities.
If you or someone you know has a question regarding their divorce and credit card debt, contact the Williams Law Group, at (908) 810-1083, today to learn more about how we can assist you.