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How do you handle credit card debt in an Illinois divorce?

Over several years of marriage, you and your spouse may have completely entangled your finances. You may have closed your separate bank accounts and credit cards to open joint accounts. You may have both deposited your paychecks into the same shared account. 

Once you file for divorce, you will have to begin the painstaking process of separating your finances and your assets. In Illinois, if you have to go to court over property division, the rule is that a judge must seek an equitable way to split up your properties and debts. 

What will that mean for your credit card balances? 

A judge has to look at the entirety of the situation

Just dividing the credit card debt in half is unlikely to be the fairest and most appropriate solution. A judge has to look at why the couple incurred the debt and when they made certain charges. The intent matters. 

Spending to support the household will likely be the responsibility of both spouses, while charges right after filing for divorce intended to punish one spouse or expenses related to an extramarital affair might remain the separate debt of one spouse. 

The courts could order you to close your joint accounts or refinance the debt. They may also consider how much debt one spouse will carry when deciding how to divide up other property. When you understand what the court will likely do with your debt, you will be in a better position to try to negotiate a settlement with your spouse outside of court. 

Making sure to think about what you can pay and what you believe is not your responsibility can help you push for the best possible property division outcome in your upcoming Illinois divorce.