Joint credit card accounts and divorce

Married couples in Texas often have shared debt from joint credit cards that they own together. When couples divorce, this credit card debt must be divided just like all of a couple’s marital assets. Although an individual may welcome their ex-spouse’s agreement to take responsibility for credit card debt, there are some inherent pitfalls in this arrangement.

When two names are listed on a joint credit card account, the creditor considers both individuals responsible for the debt, regardless of what personal arrangement they might have. If the couple divorces and one spouse agrees to pay off the debt, the creditor can still pursue repayment from the other spouse. The creditor will also continue to report information about the account to credit bureaus with both spouses’ names.

If a spouse owns an individual credit card account, they will be solely responsible for paying any debt on that account after a divorce. However, if a person was listed as an authorized user on their spouse’s individual account, the person’s credit report could be affected by their spouse’s credit card activity.

Although creditors are under no legal obligation to take a spouse’s name off of a joint credit card account after a divorce, they may agree to update credit card accounts if asked. A spouse who is going through a divorce that involves credit card debt might want to work with an attorney to ensure that any joint credit card accounts are paid off, closed or changed to individual accounts as soon as possible. An attorney could also help a spouse work out a property division settlement that does not leave their credit score tied to their ex-spouse’s debt.

Source: FindLaw, “Credit and Divorce,” Accessed Feb. 12, 2015