Ask A Lawyer
Question: I am in the middle of a divorce but the wife has not turned in the final papers yet. How do I protect myself from any of her debt?
Answer: If there is a settlement in place, but not finalized the debts should be allocated an additional debt to the cards should not affect the settlement terms. The allocation should either state a specific amount, a specific card(she does not have access) or a debt amount defined by the debt at a certain date.
If there is not a settlement on the debts, cancel any cards and close down lines of joint credit. This protects debts in joint names and prevents or at least limits her options to use your credit to litigate against you.
Generally, all assets and debts are divided as of the date of the judgment if the matter is not settled. However, it is not uncommon to divide debt as of the date of separation. This is discretionary in my jurisdictions upon the judge. The origination of debt is also a factor. For example, a personal trip for your wife would be more likely to be allocated to her, compared to food or routine clothing purchases IE necessities.