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We're buried in credit card debt. Can we still get divorced?

When couples are splitting up, they often fail to consider the role debt will play as they divide their finances and assets - particularly credit card debt. The average household carries over $15,000 in credit card debt. Credit card debt (and the rest of the debt carried by the household) will be divided between the spouses during the divorce.

It is important that you understand your specific situation and how to protect yourself during the division of debt and assets.

Here are a few practice tips for avoiding disaster in the division of credit card debt during divorce:

Stay on top of it - It is critical that you protect yourself by staying ahead of credit card debt during divorce. As soon as you believe that the divorce is likely to occur, do your homework and find out exactly how much credit card debt is being carried on all jointly-held cards. Keep careful documentation.

Communicate - Even though you may not be on the best terms with your spouse, make every effort to have productive conversations about credit card use. Come to a working agreement on how the cards will be used during the divorce and document that agreement, as much as is possible. If you cannot arrive at an agreement with your spouse, consider working with a mediator or a financial professional who can facilitate this discussion and deliver an agreeable compromise.

Set up separate credit lines - If you and your spouse do not have separate cards already, make sure you both secure individual lines of credit and credit cards to use in place of the jointly-held cards. This will also expedite the process of dividing up the credit carried on the jointly-held cards.

Monitor - Make sure that you carefully monitor jointly-held credit card usage throughout the divorce. Be aware of all major or unexpected transactions. While you don't want to add more fuel to the fire of any arguments or pain points you have with your spouse, it is important to address credit card use. As always, document major expenses incurred on the card by both you and your spouse.

Enlist trusted legal advice - A skilled divorce attorney can provide you a clear understanding of where your specific situation stands, how much you will likely be obligated to take during the divorce and practical steps to protect yourself from being given more debt than you ought.

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