A credit card company is not bound by a divorce decree. Therefore, California divorcees may find it more difficult to get rid of joint debt than to separate from their actual spouses. Ideally, individuals will take steps to divide this debt prior to getting a divorce. This could mean paying the joint balances together or transferring a portion of the debt to credit cards in each person's name.
It is also a good idea to cancel any cards that have a former spouse's name on them. Doing so reduces the chances of negative credit consequences if that person fails to pay his or her part of that debt. It could also prevent an individual from taking a credit hit if a former spouse decides to file for bankruptcy related to that joint debt. In most cases, it is possible to come to an agreement about joint debt by working with a mediator or financial planner.
By working with an outside party, exes could ensure that the negotiations are based on facts instead of a person's feelings. It is important to note that a divorce decree could contain consequences for a person who fails to pay off joint debts as agreed. However, it could take both time and money to actually enforce those clauses in court.
In a divorce, most marital property will be eligible to be divided in the final settlement. If an individual fails to live up to the stipulations of the divorce decree, legal action may be warranted. An attorney could structure a final settlement in a manner that provides as much financial protection as possible. This may include asking that joint debts be taken out of that person's name to avoid potential credit issues.