You can divorce your spouse, but unless you take extra steps to protect yourself, ditching debt from jointly held cards is more difficult. Credit card companies aren’t bound by divorce decrees, so they can go after you for jointly incurred debt if your former spouse doesn’t pay.
This is why divorce attorneys, financial planners and credit counselors recommend that you leave your marriage with no joint debt. By either paying off the joint cards together or dividing up the debt on joint cards and transferring it to cards in each partner’s name, the goal is to remove your liability for your partner’s debts. It’s also important to inventory your wallet and make sure all joint credit cards are canceled during the divorce process.
The consequences of going into your newly single life with jointly held debt are potentially painful: Should your ex file for bankruptcy or just not pay what he or she is supposed to pay, your creditors can go after you for the full amount of the debt, plus interest and penalties. You can include provisions in the divorce agreement to force your ex to pay up, but going back to court is expensive and time-consuming.