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What does credit card debt mean for authorized users in divorce?

You may have heard that getting rid of joint credit cards during divorce is a wise move, and this is true. You'll want to pay off the debt or divide it up, just like you would with assets. Otherwise, the credit card companies can still come after both you and your ex for payment, even if you're divorced. However, what does it mean if you're just an authorized user?

Generally speaking, this is a good thing for you. The account holder is the only one from whom the credit card companies will demand payment. If your spouse opened the account and just put you on as a user, your spouse is actually responsible for both your charges as well as his or her own. The card is in your spouse's name, and he or she agreed to take on your debt by authorizing you to use that account.

Now, if you want to be nice, you can pay half of the debt. Many couples do just because they understand that both people had a hand in purchases; does it really matter who picked up the groceries if both people ate them?

However, in other cases, this gets to be very important when most of the charges are in one person's name. For example, one woman said her husband wanted her to pay half even though the majority of the charges stemmed from his travels. She didn't want to pay half for his plane tickets, hotels, etc.

In a situation like that, being an authorized user is important qualification, because in Nebraska, you wouldn't have to pay the full 50 percent, as it not a community property state.

As you can see, it's important to know what debts you owe when you get divorced.

Source: Bankrate, "Close credit card accounts in divorce," Janna Herron, accessed Jan. 22, 2016

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