Are you on the hook for your ex’s credit card bills in a divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 1, 2022 | Divorce

Having too much debt will put a lot of strain on your marriage. Financial issues are one of the top reasons that people end up filing for divorce in Florida. One spouse who spends too much or who hides their debt from the other can do a real disservice to the marital relationship.

Married couples may get into arguments about how they spend their money or the amount of debt one spouse has accrued during the marriage. Eventually, those disagreements might lead to one spouse deciding that divorce is the safer option.

If you are the more fiscally responsible spouse in your marriage, you may feel optimistic about regaining full control over your finances after your divorce. Will the Florida family courts force you to help pay your ex’s massive credit card debt?

Debt is frequently part of the marital estate

When the courts divide your property and financial obligations, they look at when you earned money or took on certain debts. To fairly and reasonably divide belongings and obligations, they treat essentially everything you accumulated during the marriage as marital property and then try to find a fair way to split all of it.

If your spouse opened the credit card and then proceeded to max it out, you will potentially have partial responsibility for the amounts accrued during your marriage. The courts will expect you to share responsibility for joint accounts. Even if you are not on the account, you could still be partially responsible for the debts.

Still, in cases involving financial infidelity or dissipation, the courts may exclude some of those debts from your marital estate.

When debts belong to only one spouse

It is more common than you might imagine for one spouse to lie to the other about their spending habits or their personal debt.

If you knew about your spouse’s compulsive shopping and credit card misuse before you got married, then the courts may hold you accountable for the debt from during your marriage. However, if your spouse intentionally hid deaths and also the items they purchased from you, their financial infidelity may at least partially absolve you of the responsibility for those credit card balances.

If the spending was dissipation or a wasteful attempt to damage your financial circumstances, that might leave the courts to exclude those debts from your marital estate as well. Finally, if your spouse used those credit cards to conduct an extramarital affair, you may be able to avoid paying for their hotel room costs and other charges.

Learning more about property division rules in Florida divorces will help you prepare for court and have a more realistic approach to negotiations with your ex.