Credit card debt is common in American marriages, and also fairly common is one spouse hiding credit card debt from the other. When one person’s spending habits are drastically different than that of the other, or spending is related to behavior a person wants to hide from his or her spouse, such as an affair or addiction, it can be tempting to keep debt a secret. In the long-run this is usually a mistake and can put an emotional strain on a marriage, as well as the financial one it created. In some cases, the financial burden in a marriage is enough to drive a couple to divorce.
What Should You Know if Credit Card Debt Has Landed You in Divorce Court?
In an equitable division state, debt incurred during the marriage is the responsibility of both spouses. This means that even if your spouse had no idea how much debt you accumulated, he or she can be held equally responsible for it by the divorce court. There are instances in which a credit card in only your name will be your responsibility alone, but you cannot count on this being the case. The bottom line is lenders will go after whomever they can to get the money they are owed.
The court might also consider the reason why debt was incurred and use that reason to determine whether or not it will hold your spouse financially responsible. For instance, if debt is incurred as the result of an extramarital affair, it is less likely the non-offending spouse will be held responsible than if the debt was the result of several shared vacations.
What Can You Expect Your Spouse to Do If He or She Suspects You are Hiding Debt?
Your spouse and his or her attorney will likely dig into financial information to determine what debt is being hidden. You can expect your credit report to be pulled and bank statements to be reviewed. Tax returns will also be reviewed, as well as information regarding retirement and savings accounts.
You can also expect your spouse to close or request that you close any joint accounts shared by the two of you. If you are still trying to hide credit card accounts, now is the time to come clean. His or her attorney will find them and you are better off taking care of the issue on your own. If you are unable to pay off a joint debt outright consider transferring it to a credit card in only your name.
Keep in mind that even if you or your spouse is ordered by the court to pay a debt and seems solely responsible for that debt, it does not mean the lender cannot pursue legal action against either or both of you. Keep careful track of your paperwork and make sure you are able to prove your spouse is also responsible for a debt if the court deemed it so.
Many people contact an attorney because they are the victim of a spouse or soon-to-be-former spouse hiding debt, but it can be just as stressful being the spouse hiding the debt. Living a lie has an effect on every aspect of your life and it can destroy the financial future of you and your spouse.
If you are hiding debt from your spouse and you believe the situation is out of control, bankruptcy could be an option. It can help you whether your marriage is intact, or if divorce proceedings are in process or your marriage is over.
For more information, contact the Law Offices of Robert M. Geller at 813.254.5696 to discuss your situation.