What Happens to Joint Credit Cards When You Get Divorced?

a credit card

When people get married, they tend to combine finances and open up joint accounts. When they divorce, they need to disentangle their finances. In many cases that means that you will need to take care of your joint credit cards, either by closing them out or putting them into one name. If you are at all confused about the financial side of divorce, a Shelby County, Tennessee divorce lawyer can help you weigh your options and protect yourself.

Should I Cancel Our Joint Credit Cards?

In most cases, yes. Debt accumulated during a marriage is often split, so shutting down a joint card before your former spouse can run up a “revenge debt” and leave you on the hook for their purchases is a good way to protect yourself and your credit.

If there was a joint credit card, shut it down. If you had a credit card that had your spouse as an authorized user, take them off of it. Also, do not just believe that your spouse will not use a card because they say so. They can even cut up the card in front of you, but in the age of digital wallets and online stores that save credit card information that means little.

When Should I Keep a Joint Card Open?

Sometimes a joint card is one of the only lines of credit one spouse can rely on. Sometimes it is used exclusively for something that both partners care about, like expenses for their children. In cases like these, it may be wise to leave an account open as long as there is agreement about what kinds of charges can be made.

If you cancel a card your spouse relies on, it could end up reflecting poorly on you. Let’s say you cancel the card and your spouse tries to use it to pay utility bills. It is understandable that you would move to protect yourself and your finances, but doing so by leaving your former spouse and kids sitting in a home without power or water is not going to make you look like the good guy.

What About Rewards and Points Programs?

One important thing to remember is that many credit cards offer reward points. These can be redeemed for travel, flights, hotel stays, and more.

Before closing out a joint account, see what kinds of rewards you have accumulated. Then these points or rewards should be evenly divided up. You want to treat this like any other asset. If you try to pull a fast one and use up the rewards without your former spouse noticing, that could make you look bad when you are trying to negotiate alimony, child support, or the split of other assets.

Consult a Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney

If you want to protect yourself and avoid costly mistakes, a family law attorney can help. Contact Rice Law to learn more about how you can safeguard your credit and fight for a favorable divorce outcome. Schedule your initial consultation today.