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3 credit card debts that may not be divisible during divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Property Division

Economic concerns often dominate discussions about divorce proceedings. People may worry about what divorce might cost and about the process of dividing their property and financial obligations. This is understandable, as property division can be very unpredictable, particularly when spouses have enjoyed a higher standard of living during their marriage. They may have quite a bit of property to address. They may also have a sizable amount of marital debt, including credit card balances.

Spouses may find themselves disagreeing about issues related to credit cards during their divorce negotiations, including what debts they need to share. For example, sometimes, certain credit card debts are not part of the marital estate.

What financial obligations can people exclude from property division negotiations?

Debts owed prior to marriage

If the marriage ends in divorce relatively quickly or if one spouse entered the marriage with a particularly high level of personal debt, they may still owe a sizable balance on credit cards they held prior to marriage. Most of the time, spouses in Washington can exclude debts accrued prior to the marriage from property division proceedings.

Debts related to adultery

Cheating has long been one of the leading causes of divorce. Someone who discovered that their spouse has cheated may decide that they want to move on, and they may also want to hold their spouse accountable. While the courts usually do not consider marital misconduct when dividing property, funds spent on adultery are one of the exceptions. If someone wasted marital resources or accumulated debt while conducting an affair, the courts may hold solely the cheating spouse accountable for those debts.

Debts accrued due to deception

Financial infidelity has also become a common reason to file for divorce. If one spouse lies about their spending habits or accumulates debt without telling their spouse, their balances due on their credit cards may come as a shock during the disclosure stage of the divorce. In cases involving either intentionally wasting marital property or hiding economic activity from a spouse, the courts can sometimes agree to exclude those debts from the marital estate.

Conducting a thorough financial review is often necessary to secure an appropriate outcome when dividing marital property. Realizing that some credit card debts may not be part of a marital estate could help those preparing for property division negotiations or divorce litigation to more effectively safeguard their interests.