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Do you have to pay your spouse’s credit cards off in a divorce?

| Jun 23, 2021 | Divorce

Trying to predict your financial circumstances after a divorce is never easy unless you have a very strong prenuptial agreement with your spouse. There are so many variables that affect the outcome of divorce proceedings that even straightforward community property division laws still seem confusing.

You and your spouse each enjoy shared ownership of your most valuable personal assets under community property rules, regardless of who earned more or who made certain purchases. What you may not understand is what community property laws in a California divorce will mean for the debts you’ve acquired.

Will you have to help your spouse pay off their credit card bill after you divorce if the account is only in their name?

Debts are also community property

Unless your spouse had those debts prior to your marriage, the name on the account isn’t what determines ownership. Instead, when they accrued the debt matters far more in the eyes of the California family courts.

Debts from during your marriage are more likely to be community property that each spouse will have to help repay. There are some exceptions, however. If you can show dissipation of marital funds or wasteful spending, the courts may not make you responsible for intentional wastefulness by your spouse. The same is true for amounts spent while having an extramarital affair or between when you separated and when the courts finalized your divorce.

A careful review of your financial record can give you an idea of what debts you may need to help repay in an upcoming divorce. An experienced family law attorney can help.