You wouldn’t believe how often this one comes up in our offices! And it’s hard to blame people for being frustrated about it. After all, being married to someone who’s spent the last few years (or decades!) nickel-and-diming you to death can be very stressful. And it certainly doesn’t seem fair to ask one spouse to fork over the cash to cover another spouse’s wanton spending habits when they finally part ways. But before we get all riled up here, let’s take a look at what Michigan law has to say on the matter…
Does credit card debt count as ‘marital debt’?
In short – yes it often does! But not every time – it depends on who incurred the debt, why and when. If a debt is marital, it means each party is equally responsible for it (although the court usually assigns that debt to one person who is responsible for equalizing the net part of that property.) If a debt is separate, it isn’t calculated into the marital estate, and the person who has the account in their name is responsible for paying it off.
What counts as a marital debt?
In order for a debt to count as a marital debt, the general rule of thumb is that it should have been incurred during the marriage, and before the date of separation (assuming the spouses get separated before they get divorced.) So if the credit card debt was accrued while you were married, even if your spouse was the one to wrack up more of it than you did, if the credit card is in both of your names you’ll probably have a hard time proving it wasn’t you!
Does the law say that all marital debts must be shared?
Nope, it doesn’t. Unlike marital property, the law doesn’t assume that a debt is marital just because it was incurred during the marriage. The court does recognize that some debts incurred during a marriage are the responsibility on one spouse, and therefore when that couple gets divorced, the spouse who incurred the debt has to be responsible for it! But again, if the card is in both of your names you may have a heck of a time proving it wasn’t you!
Credit card companies don’t care about divorce decrees!
Another thing to be aware of is that credit card companies don’t give a hoot about who spent the money, they just want to be paid back. So as far as they’re concerned, if both you and your spouse were named on the credit card account, and then you get divorced and the court assigned that debt to your ex, you’re still fair game. If your ex doesn’t pay the portion the court assigned them, the credit card company will likely come after you for that money!
Your best choice is to have an attorney skilled in asset division
Fighting about who gets what is very stressful. And when your spouse is spiteful, or unwilling to work with you on fairly dividing all your assets and debts, it can be an awful process! That’s why it’s so important for you to hire a skilled family law attorney with lots of experience handling every aspect of divorce in Michigan. So if that sounds like your situation, call 866 766 5245 today and talk to someone who can help!