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Divorce and credit card debt in Texas

What happens to credit card debt during a divorce? Texas is a community property state, which means that the credit card debt is seen as both spouses' responsibility to pay back.

In a recent article, a wife asked a financial advisor for advice about divorce and credit card debt. The wife lived in a state governed by community property law. A wife, planning a separation from her husband, was willing to assume half the debt of her husband's credit card and transfer it to her own card. She wanted to know what would happen in the event her husband subsequently defaulted on his half of the debt; would the credit card company come after her for his unpaid balance?

She also asked about a second option in which she would leave the entire balance on her husband's card and make several payments to pay her portion of the total. Since she would have proof of payments, her question was if she would be liable for the total amount owed if her husband made later purchases from the balance she had paid-in.

The advisor answered that, in states where community property laws apply, both spouses may be responsible for any debts incurred while they are still married. She added that personal debts, even if entered into by only one of the spouses, appear on credit reports of each of the spouses. She advised that, in the eyes of the credit card company, each spouse is both individually and jointly responsible for the entire amount of the debt. If one spouse doesn't pay, the other must.

She further advised the wife to immediately call the card company with instructions to freeze the account. In the event she received resistance from the company, she advised seeking legal help. After that step, her next help would be from a divorce court. For persons facing similar circumstances, an experienced family attorney may be able to determine a proposed equitable division of both property and debt to present to the court for approval.

Source: Fox Business, "Divorce and Card Debt in Community Property States", Sally Herigstad, July 17, 2013

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