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When you need a divorce, don’t let credit card debt hold you back

On Behalf of | Jan 15, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce is a relatively common experience in Rhode Island. Issues ranging from growing apart to infidelity may inspire one spouse to initiate divorce proceedings. Many people might theoretically benefit from divorce, but they may also feel reluctant to file because of their current family or financial circumstances.

Some people stay married because they worry about the impact a divorce could have on their children. Others continue struggling through a miserable marriage because they have substantial credit card debt and think that staying married is probably their only option for repaying those debts. Those with high levels of marital debt should not let their current financial circumstances determine all of their future opportunities.

Credit card debt does not prevent a divorce

There are many reasons that people may feel as though they cannot manage credit card debt on their own after a divorce. For example, perhaps the account with the biggest balances in their name. Maybe they have joint accounts with their spouse and carry very high balances. In either of those scenarios, the credit card debt holding someone back from a divorce filing is not actually a reason to stay married.

The equitable distribution rules in Rhode Island require that people split up debts in addition to dividing their shared property. Any credit card debt that people take on during a marriage is potentially part of the marital estate and subject to division. Regardless of whose name is on the account, debts taken on to support the family during the marriage are likely divisible when the spouses divorce. There are many potential solutions for credit card debt in a Rhode Island divorce.

Spouses can liquidate some of their shared assets and pay their marital debts in full. The spouse with a higher income might agree to accept responsibility for those debts in consideration of retaining other valuable property. Each spouse could also agree to accept responsibility for certain accounts or a certain percentage of the marital debt.

Spouses could reach these terms through negotiations or mediation. A judge could also impose a variety of solutions for credit card debt in the event of a litigated split. Factors including the purpose behind the debt and the economic circumstances of each spouse can influence how a judge rules on the debts that people acquired during a marriage.

Understanding what happens to credit card debt during a Rhode Island divorce may empower people to pursue their happiness despite their current marital and financial struggles.