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How is Credit Card Debt Handled in an Illinois Divorce?

Posted on in Asset Division

West Dundee Divorce Attorneys

Individuals seeking to divorce a spendthrift spouse often fear being stuck with excessive credit card debt that they never wanted. Because married couples often share credit card debt that one spouse is responsible for accumulating, Illinois has rules for determining which spouse is responsible for credit card debt during divorce. Dividing marital assets and debt is one of the most complex and challenging parts of many divorces, but understanding how this process works is essential to negotiating an acceptable divorce decree. 

Do I Have to Pay My Spouse’s Credit Card Debt? 

Even if your spouse exclusively made the purchases on a credit card, you may still have to help pay off the balance. Generally, debt that is incurred once the marriage begins is considered marital debt and must be divided as part of the asset division process. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, so assets and debt are split according to what is fair rather than equal. If paying down all of the credit card debt would create a substantial burden to your spouse but not to you, you may end up stuck paying off some of the balance.

If your spouse took on credit card debt that primarily benefited them – rather than the marriage – they may be held responsible for paying all of it off. But if your name is also on the credit card, or if the purchases benefited your children or household, you could be given a portion of the debt.

How Do Courts Determine How Credit Card Debt is Divided? 

Courts can use several factors when splitting debt between spouses. In addition to considering which spouse benefitted from the purchases, these factors include, but are not limited to: 

  • The financial resources of each spouse

  • The needs and expenses of each spouse

  • How long the marriage lasted

  • Whether one spouse is paying spousal maintenance or child support

It is important to remember that even if a judge determines that your spouse is responsible for making payments on a credit card as part of a divorce decree, if your name is on the account and your spouse defaults on payments, creditors can still pursue you for payments. Because recovering payments from a defaulting spouse can be difficult and expensive, courts will often try to prevent this by allocating most or all credit card debt to one spouse and then compensating them with a larger share of the marital assets. 

Meet With an Algonquin Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering divorce, an experienced Geneva, IL divorce attorney with Law Offices of Benedict Schwarz, II P.C. may be able to help you negotiate a favorable debt division. We will explain the divorce process from start to finish so you can set realistic expectations and plan for your future. Schedule your initial consultation by calling our offices today at 847-428-7725

 

Source:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=075000050HPt%2E+V&ActID=2086&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=6200000&SeqEnd=8675000

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