Can your ex stick you with all the credit card debt in a divorce?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Debt is a common issue in modern married life. Many couples have to put at least some of their expenses on credit. Sharing financial accounts is common practice for married couples, which means you share debt as well as personal property.

Both spouses may have their own card attached to the same account, or one spouse may use their personal account to cover household expenses. When you divorce in New Jersey, the equitable distribution standard applies to not just your assets but also your debt.

Could your ex manipulate the situation so that you somehow become responsible for their credit card debt?

Not all debts are subject to division

In scenarios where one spouse wastefully spends money to punish their ex, the courts may choose to exclude those amounts from property division proceedings. A debt that someone accrued prior to getting married or after legally separating from their spouse may not be part of the asset division process either.

However, even debts in one person’s name from during the marriage will likely get split up in your divorce proceedings. Gathering evidence about the way you or your spouse used financial accounts or why you believe a specific debt is separate property can help you advocate for yourself during divorce litigation.

Understanding the basic rules of debt division can also help you fight back against unfair demands made by your ex during negotiations or mediation. If one spouse assumes more of the marital debt than the other, they could receive more marital property to compensate them for that or have reduced support obligations because they agree to pay those credit card debts.

Understanding the financial rules that apply in New Jersey divorces can lead to better outcomes.

FindLaw Network