Is My Spouse Liable for My Credit Card Debt?

Is my spouse responsible for my credit card debt? What happens to my spouse if I file for bankruptcy?

A debt collector is suing me for $5,700 in credit card debt. The credit card was in my name and the suit is also in my name only. Is my spouse responsible for my debt? If I get judgment against me and later file for bankruptcy will I still be liable for the debt?

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Highlights


  • Review how spousal liability is different in community property states than in non-community property states.
  • Understand that rules vary from state to state.

If both spouses sign a debt agreement, both are liable to the creditor. However, if only one spouse signs agreement, then depending on which state the agreement was signed or where the spouses now live, the non-signing spouse may have liability.

Spousal Liability in Community Property States

Let us tackle the difficult states first — the community property states. The community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington or Wisconsin.

If the spouses now live in a community property state, or lived in one at the time the consumer debt account (such as a credit card account) was opened, the non-signing spouse may have incurred liability without signing a credit contract as co-debtor. If the debt incurred during your marriage was used for the benefit of both members of the marriage, liability may accrue to the non-signing spouse in community property states.

Regarding a non-signing spouse's liability IF the parties are living in a community property state AND the debt was incurred during their marriage for the benefit of both spouses, AND a spouse is sued and a judgment is rendered for a specific amount owed, the judgment can be collected by wage garnishment against any defendant included in the judgment order singularly or simultaneously. The garnishment amount is normally 25% of net income (that is, after withholding) but this varies from state to state. The creditor does not have any duty to "even out" the judgment liability between the spouses. A creditor has the legal right to collect 100% from either spouse, whichever is more convenient for them.

As a practical matter, even in community property states, many creditors do not go to the trouble of suing both spouses, as doing so tends to complicate the legal process involved in obtaining a judgment. However, this does not mean that a particularly aggressive creditor will not pursue all of its available rights to collect a debt.

One important disclaimer: Community property laws are unique to each state -- no two states share the same laws. The discussion above regarding spousal liability is meant to provide general information about community property as a theory. Your state's laws may vary from the general theory. Therefore, it is important to consult with an attorney in your state who can review the details of your situation and give you accurate and precise advice about your rights and liabilities under your state's laws.

Spousal Liability in Non-Community Property States

If the spouses never resided in a community property state, and only one spouse signed the loan contract (such as a credit card agreement), then the signatory-spouse is liable for the debt. Conversely, the non-signatory spouse does not share in his or her spouse's liabilities in non-community property states.

Bankruptcy

Now let us turn to bankruptcy. Let us assume one spouse filed for protection under chapter 7 or 13 of the federal bankruptcy code. That filing may not have any effect, positive or negative, on the non-filing spouse. In a non-community property state, the filing of one spouse does not give the other spouse protection of the "automatic stay" (blocking creditors from collection) or the bankruptcy discharge.

Similarly, one spouse filing bankruptcy will not have an effect on the other spouse's credit report, if there are no joint debts. If there are joint debts, you can expect the bankruptcy to be noted in some way on the credit record of the non-filing spouse.

If both spouses are jointly liable to a creditor, the bankruptcy of one does not relieve the other of paying the debt. Upon a bankruptcy, the creditor may look to the other spouse for payment, unless the bankruptcy case is under Chapter 13. If the debt is a consumer debt to be paid 100 percent through the Chapter 13 plan, the co-debtor is protected by the co-debtor stay.

There may be good news for spouses who file for bankruptcy in a community property state. When one spouse files bankruptcy in a community property state, the marital community enjoys the protection of the filing spouse's bankruptcy discharge.

Consult with an attorney to discuss the possible ramifications for both spouses. Bankruptcy laws and courts are federal, but community property and family law vary from state to state. It is important to discuss your situation with an attorney familiar with your state's marital property laws.

Bankruptcy and Judgments

Some judgments cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, including child support, repayment orders dealing with cases of fraud, student loans and some taxes. However, a credit card judgment can be discharged in bankruptcy.

Review the Bills.com to learn more about this procedure, what it can do for you, and more on which debts can't be discharged in a bankruptcy.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

120 Comments

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  • 35x35
    Aug, 2012
    brandon
    I signed a credit card contract when I lived in Texas, but I was not married at the time. Now, I live in Colorado and I am married. Since, Texas is a community property state, would they be able to garnish my spouse's wages for the debt?

    Also, Texas does not allow wage garnishment for credit card debt. Sure, they can seize your bank account, but you can simply have the employer give you an old fashioned check and cash it at their bank.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2012
      Bill
      It is possible for the original creditor, the credit card issuer, to file a breach of contract lawsuit against you in Texas or another state, depending on the terms of the contract you signed. If a collection agent is pursuing you, it must, under the FDCPA, file a lawsuit against you in your state of residence. You mentioned Colorado. Colorado is the state most likely a creditor would file an action in court against you.

      Focus on understanding the debt laws in your current state of residence, and not the state where you signed the contract with the credit card issuer. Colorado is not a community property state — it is a common law state when it comes to family law. Based on the facts you shared, I would guess your spouse has no liability for your debt. However, consult with a Colorado lawyer who has civil litigation, consumer law, or bankruptcy experience to learn more about your rights and liabilities.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Tania
    I live in Oklahoma. I had been married for 11 years and for all those years I was pretty much a stay at home mother. I was born in another country and just moved here when I married my husband (I'm a citizen now), and in all this time since I never worked, every credit card and every thing was acquired in my husbands name and under is social (he actually has most of these cards since before we married). I had access to credit cards as an authorized user, but my social was never used and as such, I never acquired any credit history. Actually my credit history is 0. Anyway, now that we are divorcing, am I liable for any part of the debt?
    1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Because Oklahoma is not a community property state, and you have not signed a contract with the credit card company, you should not be liable for your husband's credit card debt.

      I recommend that you speak with your divorce lawyer regarding the division of property, and discuss with him or her your husband's credit card debts.

      Also, you should start working on creating your own credit score. Use Bills.com to be more informed about credit scores.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    tami
    I stay home Mom, never work only take care kids and husband for 20 years. I have credit card but as a supplement from my husband. he apply credit card using his SSN. now we getting divorce, can I be responsible for credit card debt?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Ignoring the divorce scenario, a signer of a credit card contract is responsible for credit cards in the signor's name alone and any joint accounts.

      Divorce does not change the relationship the signer has to the credit card issuer (or any other creditor), but it may change which spouse must pay the debt. For example, in community property states, a court may decide that each spouse must pay 50% of an account's credit card debt. In non-community property states, the court may make similar finding if the charges on the credit card were for the benefit of both spouses or their children. It is impossible to make detailed statements about the division of assets and liabilities without a thorough analysis of the couple's finances.

      Consult with a family law lawyer in your state because, as I mentioned, as each spouse's responsibility for debts will depend on your state's laws.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Angie
    I had $30K in credit card debt when I got married. My soon to be ex paid it all off. He now wants to getting out of paying alimony saying the $30K was a loan to me. I never signed anything. Can he offset this $30K against the alimony I am entitled?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      I am skeptical he can pass-off as a loan something that was paid without the two of you having made some kind of loan agreement at the time.

      My opinion, however, is not something for you to rely upon. Consult with a divorce attorney to understand your rights and to best protect your interests.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Natalie
    One more: We live in California. Do you know if prenuptial agreement can protect me from his future debts? In other words, if we have a prenup, does that guarantee that his debts that he acquires during marriage are only his debts? Thank you
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      "Protect" is a relative word. A prenuptial, also called an ante-nuptial contract, binds the two parties but has no effect on third parties. Person A and Person B can sign a valid ante-nuptial agreement in California that states in effect, "We each agree to be personally liable for our own debts incurred before or during our marriage," and a California court would probably enforce that contract. However, neither Person A or B could use the ante-nuptial as a shield against Creditor 1, 2, 3 etc., that receive a judgment and now seek to attach the Person's community assets.
      1 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Natalie
      Thank you. I guess in that case the question is: "Can a third-party (creditor) receive a judgement that allows him to withdraw money from another spouse using the community property law IF spouses have signed prenuptial contract that states that they keep their debts separate?" In other words, is prenup. even needed if it doesn't protect you from your husband/wife's debts? Thanks again, very useful site!
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      A valid ante-nuptial agreement binds the spouses, but has no impact on the rights of third parties.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Natalie
    We live in CA and are planning to get married. As I understand, his student loans and credit card debt that he has right now does not roll over as my debt since those were acquired prior to marriage, right? What about if during our marriage he gets: 1. a speeding ticket when we are married; 2. Student or any other loan in his name without my signature; 3. New credit card debt in his name. Am I liable for any of the three above, or better question - would his creditors pursue me? I: 1. own a house in my name, purchased before marriage; 2. earn a monthly salary. Thank you in advance!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      For a general discussion of the issues you raise, see the Bills.com resource California Student Loan Default which discusses spousal liability in a student loan context, but the overall concepts apply.

      Regarding your questions:
      1. Spouse A (or other family members) have no criminal liability for Spouse B's traffic violations or other crimes, major or minor.
      2. The community is responsible for spousal pre-marital debt. However, if the couple divorces, student loans become the signatory-spouse's separate property.
      3. In practice, a creditor will pursue the signatory-spouse first. If there is a default followed by a judgment, then the judgment-creditor can pursue the couple's community property. In practice, this is rare, but it happens.

      Consult with a California lawyer who has family law experience to discuss a ante-nuptial agreement to clarify each party's rights and expectations.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Lisa
    I've been divorced for 7 years. My ex has just filed bankruptcy. He removed my name from the mortgage but didn't remove it from the RV loan, which was purchased in Texas. HE HAS THE RV. He lives in Florida, I live in New Jersey. Is there any way I can have my name removed from the loan? His bankruptcy is effecting my credit because of this RV loan. Can the bank come after me for the money? What can I do?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      Two reading assignments for you:

      Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer in your state to learn more about your liabilities and rights, and if you have options other than to pay the loan or file bankruptcy yourself, should the lenders pursue you.

      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2011
    Veronica
    Ex plans to file for divorce and agreed to take on all debt including debt that is soley in my name. He plans to file bankruptcy. Can he file bankruptcy on the debt that is not in his name? We lived in Ohio and I now reside in Georgia.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Bill
      The question is not whether someone can include debt "in their name" in a bankruptcy filing. The question is, "Does the person filing bankruptcy have legal responsibility for the debt?" Details matter. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. He or she will review the debts in question and advise you, or your spouse, accordingly.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Nov, 2011
      Michael
      If the divorce decree stated he had to pay the debt in your name then he will be in contempt of that decree if he no longer pays it. Also, if the debt from the divorce is in the form of alimony, then it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. However, you would likely have to fight over that in bankruptcy court if the terms in the decree were not clear.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Roxanne
    My soon-to-be exhusband and I were residents of california when we got married in hawaii. we are going to be divorced before the end of this year - just waiting for judges signature. he intends to file bankruptcy - including a house, student loans and credit cards - all in his name he obtained before our marriage - all of which i never signed anything or had my name on them. california is a community property state, in which he still resides. i am now a resident of arizona and live there. can his creditors come after me?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Your question has all of the elements of a final exam question for a California or Arizona law school's family law class. I will resist a reflexive urge to write a 1,000-word essay that will take an hour to write, and give you a very short answer.

      The Hawaii wedding is a red herring — a false issue. California's family law applies here. California is a community property state, which means that the presumption is that assets and obligations the spouses acquired during the marriage are community assets or obligations. Generally speaking, this means each spouse has liability for the debts of the other, but not always.

      That is California law, perhaps overly simplified. This means you have liability for the debts your soon-to-be-ex incurred during the time you were married, even if the accounts were created before the marriage. However, in practice, I have found it rare for creditors, especially credit card issuers, to pursue spouses in community property states. The time and expense of proving the spouse has liability seems to be a barrier for most creditors.

      You mentioned your soon-to-be-ex-spouse plans to file for bankruptcy. Assuming the debts are discharged in a chapter 7, you may still have liability for some of the community debts. However, in my experience, creditors rarely pursue the spouse of a person who filed for chapter 7. My guess is that the creditor figures, "One filed chapter 7, if I pursue the other he or she will file, too."

      I cannot say whether your soon-to-be-ex's creditors are passive or hyper-aggressive. The chances of them pursuing you are slim, but within the realm of possibility.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Michelle
    I'm getting married in Utah in 10 days, I have a home that will be paid off in 7 years, he has a lot of debt. Will I be responsible for his debt if he dies, and will the house go to him if it's designated in a trust and will to a son if I die?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Michelle, I can't give you legal advice. Only an attorney can properly dispense legal advice. I can, however, share a few thoughts with you.

      Utah is not a community property state. You are not responsible for debts that your fiance brings to the marriage. Your home that is in trust will not go to him, if your will specifies otherwise.

      As you are getting married, I strongly recommend that you speak with the lawyer who drew up your will and trust, to update your will. The lawyer will give you authoritative advice on how to keep your debts and property separate from your fiance's, and to assure that your home passes to your son consistent with your wishes, should you pre-decease your fiance.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    heidi
    Hi. I have been married now for only 4 months. i have to file bankruptcy. I am on two accounts jointly with my husband, our car and one credit card. If i file bankruptcy is this going to hurt my husband's credit or can they take our car since my name is on it? those are the only two things that are joint between us.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      If your husband maintains the car payments, then the car should not be repossessed. He needs to continue making payments on the credit card, too, to avoid harming his credit rating.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Vern
    I am ready to file bankruptcy in Ohio and just found out that my wife had a separate checking account that had a sufficient amount of money in it. I'm filing by myself and was wondering if the trustee will seize her funds from her? I did not know about this account and did not list it as asset.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      Unlikely for the reason you mentioned: The account is your spouse's separate property and not joint property. Consult with your bankruptcy lawyer to discuss this issue in depth.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2011
    Elizabeth
    I lived in Kentucky, my husband has credit cards in his name only, he is thinking about filing bankrupcy on these credit cards and wants me to file on them as well. What would be the best thing for me to do? I have benefited from some of the money on the cards.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Oct, 2011
      Bill
      You mentioned you are not a joint account holder on your spouse's debts. Do you have significant debt of your own? If the answer to that question is no, then there is no reason for you to file for chapter 7 or 13. On the other hand, if the answer is yes, and you have liability for significant debt, then consider bankruptcy.

      Unless your spouse is a lawyer, I would not act on any legal advice he provides. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer on your own to decide if bankruptcy is your best option.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Nova
    My fiance was once married. He and his wife lived in Texas. His wife (now ex-wife) opened up numerous lines of credit in ONLY his name while he was deployed to Iraq. The many bills, credit cards and line of credit were never disclosed to him. They divorced in 2009 and over the past two years more and more and more creditors have been hounding him for payment of these past due bills. These are bills he never had any part in. In their divorce it states that all bills/debts belong to each individual separately. Itemized debts were not posted in the divorce decree. My question is... can my fiance fight the against the debts now that they're popping up EVERYWHERE and use the argument that **HE** didn't open the accounts? Thanks for any info anyone can give us.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      I advise consulting with an attorney. Your fiance's ex may have committed fraud by opening accounts without his knowledge or permission. An attorney will counsel you on the proper course of action and whether the onus for the debts can be shifted to the ex.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Deborah
    I owe a judgement for a credit card debt that is ten years old. my husband was not on the credit card or the original debt. he is not on the judgement.we own a house together that we took posession of as husband and wife and both names are own the house. we live in florida. can they lien our property for my credit card judgement even though he owns the property and his name was not on the debt or judgement?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      You answered your own question: The real property is in your name and your spouse's name. If the property was titled in your spouse's name alone, the answer would be no. However, because your name appears on the title, then it is fair game for a judgment against you. Consult with a lawyer who has consumer law or real property law about filing a quit-claim deed to remove your name from the property's title.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Christopher
    My wife and I are filing for divorce which will be final in January of 2011. We filed a joint chapter 13 bankruptcy in November of 2010. As part of the plan all of the payments come out of my pay checks by garnishment. The chapter 13 was based on both our incomes and both our debts. As stated, all of the debt payments are coming from my checks. How is this affected by divorce? I don't know where to start. She claims that I have to keep paying the debts. But I'm now paying child support, alimony, the house payment and all of the bills of her household plus my household expenses. Can I simply have "our" plan reviewed by our attorney and have it lowered? Technically money is just exchanging hands except for my new expenses for my household. What do I do? Where do I start?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has family law experience. No two divorce agreements are the same. Adding a Chapter 13 to the mix complicates a support agreement even more so.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Jamie
    My husband and are in the beginning stages of divorce. I am now living in northern VA while my husband remains in NY. Neither of us are NY residents because he is in the military and is only stationed there- divorce is being filed in NY. We own the house he is in, together, and am wondering what would happen is he defaults after my name is taken off? Also, we have two vehicle loans but both are in his name, neither are in mine. I don't want the vehicles or the house but am worried that the judge will hold me responsible for one of the loans once the divorce is final. Is this possible?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      I would love to weigh in with an opinion about your situation, but there are insufficient facts in your message to allow me to do so. Divorce agreements are very fact and state law dependent — two couples with identical facts but residing in different states may have two completely different settlements. Consult with a New York or Virginia family lawyer to learn precise answers to your question.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Chris
    My divorce finalize in March 2011. My ex-husband was supposed to keep making payments on the house as stated in the divorce decree, instead he let the house go into default without my knowledge. The house went into forclosure, so my ex decided to file for bankrupcy to stay in the house as long as possible. The bankrupcy went through in July and the house was just sold in August. What will happen to my credit now that all of this has happened and what steps do I need to take to fix it?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      Divorce decrees are not binding on third parties. I assume the home loan was joint. What does the home-loan lender report on your credit report? If the delinquency appears, there is little you can do to undue the damage. You may need to file bankruptcy yourself to remove your liability for the loan.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Christina
      It was joint, but the funny thing is that it was on my credit as a foreclosure, but I checked yesterday & it shows as being removed. Thank you for your feedback.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Naresh
    I just recently been divorced and my ex-spouse filed Bankruptcy without notifing me. We both in a community state, and we have a community property that is that being rented out. The problem I have when the Bankruptcy was disclosed at the final hearing. The court did not mentioned the community property as it was documented. The ex-spouse attorney was aware andthe same attorney also did the Bankruptcy. who can I turn too in a state or federal level.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      I do not see any recourse for a resident in a community property state who owns property with a former spouse and the spouse files for chapter 7 or 13. By your former spouse doing so, you almost certainly now possess 100% of the liability for the property in question. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to learn what, if any, options you have.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2011
    Michelle
    I recently got married to my husband in Arizona. After our marriage he received a judgment against him for a debt he owed before we were married. My name is no where on these papers. Will they have the ability to garnish my wages from this? If so, is it too late to try to work out any other agreements?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      It is possible that your spouse’s creditors could name you as a co-defendant in any lawsuits they bring against your spouse to collect on these debts; if they obtain a judgment against you, they may be able to garnish your wages, levy your bank accounts, and/or place liens on your property. However, if you think that this debt does not qualify as community debt, you could challenge your liability in court and may be able to avoid a judgment being entered against you.

      Laws vary even among the different Community Property states, so you should check with an attorney, to see how great your exposure is.

      Your spouse can always try to work out a payment, even post-judgment. A creditor may not be inclined to accept a payment, if it feels it can get more by garnishment and levying bank accounts, but it is not a bad idea to try to get something stable in place, if only to prevent unpleasant surprises.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Zack
    I live in a community property state California. I am planning on filing bankruptcy. My wife is not a co signer and she has her own accounts and checking account. Is it true creditors can come after NON COSIGNER spouse for collection after filing Chapter 7? Is it the same for chapter 13?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      In California, assets and obligations of one partner acquired during the marriage become "community" assets or obligations. This can mean that one spouse can be held liable for the debts of the other spouse even if his or her name was not on the account that resulted in the debt. You should definitely consult with a bankruptcy attorney to find out to determine her exposure if you file and she does not.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    Mary
    My divorced recently became final. During our marriage my ex-husband and I accrued about $40k in credit card debt. Some credit cards had him as the primary borrower with me as an authorized signer and some were the other way around. I recently learned he will be filing for Chap. 13. I have stayed home for the past 10 years to raise our kids and am now struggling to get back on my feet. Will the credit cards that have me as a primary borrower be taken care under my ex's chap. 13, or should I expect collection calls? I'm afraid I will not be able to afford paying a lot of this debt in the near future, do I have to consider bankruptcy? We live in Arizona.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Sep, 2011
      Bill
      At the very least, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney, to see if you are eligible to discharge your debts through a Chapter 7 BK. You are going to be responsible for debts on which you were primary and your ex was only an authorized user, as far as the creditors are concerned, no matter what the terms of your divorce decree state. I don't believe that his bankruptcy will remove any of your liability.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2011
    San
    Ive accumulated a lot of debt since I was 18. I'm now 22. These debts include credit cards, student loans, and medical bills. All these debts were from when I lived in Pennsylvania. I'm now living in Virginia with my fiance. We are due to be married soon and I want to know if my debt would affect him or his credit at all. He's in the military.
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Aug, 2011
      Bill
      Neither state you mentioned are community property states, so your separate debts will remain separate before, during, and after your marriage. Your debts and your credit score should have zero impact on your future spouse's credit score.

      A word of advice: Avoid joint accounts of any kind. Should a creditor sue you and receive a judgment, any financial account linked to your Social Security number will be at risk of account levy. To share funds, open separate accounts at the same bank or credit union, and set up mechanism that will allow you to transfer funds from one account to another.

      Go to the Bills.com Money Coach Web page to get no-cost, no-gimmick, personalized advice on your best options for resolving your debt.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2011
    Darren
    Hi, I live in Mass. Married just about ten years. I own our home and only my name is on the mortgage and has always been that way as I had purchased it before we were married on my own. My wife is a homemaker (homeschooling as well) and has been for 10 years caring for our children. Recently I found out that my wife has 10K+ in credit card debt. My name is not on any of her credit cards nor is her name on any of mine. We do have a joint checking account for bill paying purposes, but that is it. I have my own savings account at another bank that I had since before we were married that I've always used to pay off my credit cards and student loan. She confessed that the total debt was much larger than that and has been using an equity line of credit that I had opened to pay the monthly balance. This all came to light when I finally paid of the equity line of credit and she had no other source of income to make these payments. I was just writing her a check each month along with some extra and letting her take care of the bills. Silly me. I know. But wanted to give her a sense of empowerment because she was staying home. I'd like to know if I am liable for her credit card debt. Can the company sue to garnish my wages or put a lien against my/our home? As she has no independent source of income and her full time job is schooling our children, what are her options when they tell her that it's $150 a month or a settlement of $7000 or a court date? At this point, I don't think that card of hers was used to supply our household. She maintains that it was prior to our marriage, but I don't know if that is true or false. Thanks for any insight that you may have
    2 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      I have not studied Massachusetts law, am not licensed to practice in that jurisdiction, and am therefore incompetent to give you a legal opinion about your liability in the the situation you described.

      Massachusetts is a common-law state when it comes to family law (as opposed to community property law). Each spouse's debts in common law states are separate, generally speaking. My guess — note that word choice — is you have no liability for your spouse's debt. I hasten to add that your wisest course of action is to consult with a lawyer who has family law experience.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jul, 2011
      christina
      thanks for sharing this comment
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    May, 2011
    Cindy
    I live in Texas and I have several credit cards with very high balances ( right at $ 40.000 and all only under my name). My income have been reduced. Is there any options. I want to repay my debt...just hard to even make min. payment and I can not qualify for a high limit loan. I do not want my spouse to find out. I dont think I can file any bankruptcy because then I would have to involve him...Is there any advice? Thanks
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      See the Bills.com series What are my debt relief options? to learn more about the choices available to you.

      Implied in your question is which debt relief option is the most private. The option with the least "Will my spouse find out?" risk is credit card counseling because your local court is not involved and the credit card issuers will probably not call for collections. The second least-risky is bankruptcy, which may seem odd given that this option is decided in a federal court is a public record. However even the nosiest busybodies do not scour Lexis/Nexis to learn the latest bankruptcy filings. More risky is debt settlement, which if you enroll in debt settlement, will involve creditors calling your home to encourage you to make payments. If your spouse intercepts one of these calls, then the cat is out of the bag.

      You did not ask, but you may wish to consider disclosing the debt to your spouse. There is a chance your spouse will learn about the debt anyway. Discussing the debt on your own terms at a date and time you chose will create a better outcome than reacting to your spouse's surprise about a) the debt, and b) not disclosing the debt. Clearing the air frees you to chose the best option based in its own financial merits, and not the option with the highest probability of secrecy.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      John
      My bookkeeper filed an application for a credit card with a bank in Hawaii where I lived. This was 20 years ago. My wife did not sign. The accounts were bought by Bank of America. I wrote to them and told them that she did not sign and that they should not report my payments on this account under her credit report. Because: 1. She has never charged anything on this account in 20 years. 2. She did not sign any agreement. They replied she that they could report on her credit report since she was listed on the account. I have read where you say this is legal under federal law. It is hard to imagine why someone that never charged on an account and never signed an agreement to be liable, would in fact be held liable on her credit report. What law is it that lets them do this? Hard to see how it is fair. How can I challenge them on this? If I take her off the account, and she has never charged on it. Can they still report on her credit report?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      I confess I do not understand the facts or circumstances surrounding your questions. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has consumer law experience, and bring any documentation you have regarding the credit card account in question to you meeting.
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      John
      Maybe best to put it simply. What exact law is it that provides that a credit card company may report on the credit report of a spouse, when all they have is the spouse listed on the account and no signed agreement by the spouse, or use of the account by the spouse?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      May, 2011
      Bill
      Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a credit card's account activity can be attributed to an authorized user's credit history. If the account is strong, this will cause a lift to the authorized user's credit score. If the account is delinquent or the balance is high, this will cause harm to an authorized user's credit score. In the past, it was possible to be added as an authorized user of an account unilaterally. By that I mean, the account owner or primary account holder could add his or her spouse, children, friends, and the mail carrier if they wanted without that person's signature.

      You are asking for specific statutes on this subject. I am not aware of any — this is in the realm of contract law.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Steel
    I live in Phoenix Arizona. I moved out of my ex wife’s house on May 1st 2010 because she started having an affair just 6 months after we were married. She was always trying to get me to buy her a new car, buy us a house etc. She argued that as my wife she should be allowed to use one of my credit cards and I agreed as long as she made the payments on it (she had triple the income I did then). I gave her a card with a zero balance on it and in 90 days she had run it to 7k at which time I took it away from her till she could bring that balance down. I caught wind of her leaving for the weekend with her ‘rich’ boyfriend leaving me home with her 4 kids and turning off her phone saying that she just needed time away to think not knowing I knew what she was really doing. I moved everything out of the house that was purchased with my credit since she was not making any of the payments and I’m going to be stuck for years paying off all the $200 haircuts and $500 a day shopping sprees, 5k honeymoon 4k wedding ring 4k wedding etc.. Of course she freaked out upon returning home to find only the things she owned before we got together and those things she actually purchased with her money. I filed for legal separation Monday May 4th and had her served Wednesday May 6th. Thankfully I had the foresight to have my mail forwarded and all my cards reported stolen and gave them a new address to send new cards to. I cancelled the one account I allowed her to be a cosigner on (trying to improve her credit). A month later I get a statement from a credit card company for $2000 on a card I never applied for. Upon examination the card was applied for online and issued May 10th and she started buying plane tickets, concert tickets entertainment for her and her boyfriend. She used my identity to obtain this credit card online and adding herself as a authorized user (not a responsible party). I went to her house grabbed everything I could return to the stores but was still left with $1050 owed. The credit card company said it was not identity theft since we were still married (but we were legally separated). Did she commit fraud and identity theft and do I have a case? I filed a police report in June just 2 weeks after I discovered what she had done, but nothing ever came of it. How can I pursue a judgment against her (our divorce is final, settled out of court with no mention of this issue) I paid the credit card bill as I didn't want it to affect my credit score which is in the high 700s I have the police report, certified dated letters of legal separation, and the two credit cards on the paper they arrived on with the envelope stating they were issued May 10th (4 days after she was served papers) I also have an itemized list of the charges she made on the card. Before I met her I carried an average credit card debt of $3000 for 10 years and after dating and then after marrying her have a debt of $23,000. 100% in my name as she has bad credit. I got the judge to grant me $6300.00 in spousal support garnished from her wages but even that has taken almost a year to get the first $350 installment. Because this garnishment has taken so long to begin that $6300 has had almost $600 in interest applied to it (she is still costing me money) Hence my interest in recovering what seems to be criminal intent to rip me off. What can I do?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in family law. He or she can analyze your situation in detail to determine if you have a case of civil fraud under your state's statutes and case law. I believe you do under the common law, but you need more than that to file a successful case.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Roy
    I am considering filing bankruptcy and about ten months ago I had transeferred some of my debt to my girl friend's credit card. Which is under her name only and is clearly my debt. I continue to make payments to her card for my debt. Is there a way I can file these debts in bankruptcy without affecting her credit? Can I submit reports that show that the debt originated from me and and that she is not responsible?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      You may be able to include the account in question with your bankruptcy filing if you have documentation to prove what you shared in your question. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer who will review your documentation and provide a more precise answer.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2011
    Fabian
    My soon to be ex-spouse and I have a credit card opened under my name. She was an authorized user for my account (she had her own card). She had told me she had lost it when she moved to New Mexico. While she was in New Mexico she spend about $4,000. When we were together we were paying the card with our money. Since we seperated i was paying for it alone and didnt want to help with the bills. Now that she moved she magically found the card. And used it for the $4k mentioned in New Mexico. Since we are going through a divorce do I tell my attorney to do something or should i get a new attorney to help with this issue? thanks for your help! :)
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Apr, 2011
      Bill
      Discuss this issue with your divorce lawyer, and consider closing the account.
      1 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2011
    Brittany
    My fiance has a lot of debt from his previous marriage, and she is still trying to make him give her more and more money by using clever lawyer tricks. When we get married am I liable for that debt as well? Does my income become a factor in the child support issue? Also, since they are already divorced can my fiance file an identity theft report concerning unauthorized use of his SSN while they were married?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      You indicated you reside in Arkansas. Arkansas is not a community property state, so Arkansas spouses are not responsible for each other's debts upon marriage. However, your statement, "...she is still trying to make him give her more and more money by using clever lawyer tricks" gives me pause. Your soon-to-be-husband needs to level the playing field and consult with an attorney regarding the "tricks" the ex-spouse is attempting. It is fine if the lawyer for the ex-spouse is a zealous advocate. However, if the lawyer engages in deceptive or misleading tactics, those must be reported to the Arkansas bar association.

      Consult with an Arkansas lawyer about the identity theft question. He or she will be able to interview your soon-to-be-spouse, learn the facts, and advise him accordingly.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Jim
    My spouse has several cards that she is behind on and they call my phone daily (house phone in my name only). I am not an authorized user or a co-signer. We live in Ga. 1)Am I responsible for this debt and 2)if not, how do I get the credit cards to stop calling my phone?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      1. Georgia is not a community property state. Please see the section in the original answer above entitled "Spousal Liability in Non-Community Property States" for a discussion of your liability.
      2. You spouse can send a cease communication letter. See the Bills.com resource Debt Self-Help Center for sample letters.

      See also the Bills.com resource Georgia Collection Laws to learn more about your rights and liabilities in Georgia.

      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Jeff
      My wife had a discover card that she added me to as an authorized user. She is unable to pay the bill, am I responsible for her debt. The credit card company has sent it to a lawyer for collections, they tell me that I owe this debt and that I am a joint account holder even though I never signed an agreement. I requested copies of a signed agreement and they cannot provide me with one. Am I responsible for her debt?
      0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Mar, 2011
      Bill
      Unscrupulous collection agents lie to consumers about their rights. The last person you should accept legal advice from is someone trying to collect money from you. You mentioned the collection agent is a lawyer. Scrupulous lawyers tell the truth, but here, you are not this lawyer's client and he or she does not have a duty to give you full, complete, and accurate legal advice. Therefore, do not believe the legal advice from this person.

      As a rule, authorized users are not responsible for paying a debt on a credit card — the account holder is responsible only. However, if two (or more) people sign a cardholder agreement, then all signers are jointly and severally liable for the account.

      If you reside in a community property state, then you may be responsible for your spouse's debts. Each community property state has slightly different rules. Consult with a lawyer in your state if you reside in a community property state.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Eliza
    My husband added me to his credit card accounts when we got married-amex,sears, etc but he never gave my ss num, they asked but he said he just wanted to give my name and get me a card. His accounts are now past due and have gone to collection agencies. Before this, I had okay credit but now its lower and all of his debts are showing up on my report. Can I dispute these items on my report? He can't take me off the accounts because they're closed, can he? We live in New York. We can't even rent an apartment because of this, please help!
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      When you are listed as an authorized user on someone's credit card account, the activity and history of that account may show up on your credit report. This can help the authorized user build her credit, if the cardholder pays on the debt as agreed. Conversely, as in your situation, if the account goes into delinquency, the authorized user can suffer harm to her credit score.

      You asked if you could dispute the items in question. While there is nothing stopping you from disputing, disputes remove inaccurate information. Because it is accurate that you were an authorized user, I don't believe a dispute will result in these accounts being removed permanently from your credit report.

      I think the best course of action is to have your husband call the different creditors and request that your name be removed from the accounts. Often, the creditors will comply because the authorized user has no financial responsibility for the debt. Removing you from the account will not reduce the ability of the creditor to collect on the debt. Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus states on its Web site, "Experian also will remove the account from your credit report at your request or if you are no longer reported as an authorized user." That seems to be your best course of action.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2011
    Dan
    I live in Michigan and my ex wife has 2 credit card judgements against her. She is on disability and uncollectible and she said she checked with a lawyer and she can have the judgements against her transferred in my name. I filed for bankruptcy of all cards in our names and those in mine but this was in hers. She said she wants to file bankruptcy because of debt incurred after we were divorced. Can she transfer the judgements in my name?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Feb, 2011
      Bill
      I am curious to learn how a judgment-debtor can assign liability for a judgment to his or her ex-spouse. Consult with a lawyer in your state who has experience in bankruptcy before you file for a chapter 7 or 13. He or she will discuss your debt resolution options, and research the possibility of you having liability for your ex-spouse's judgments.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    Anji
    My husband put my name on his credit card as an authorized user many years ago without my knowledge. He also added 3 of our children who were young minors at the time. Years later he defaulted on the balance and it was eventually charged off (about 3 years ago). We have lived in Michigan for the past 17 years, however he used his parents' address in CA to recieve bills from this account and even apparently obtained a CA driver's license listing that as his home address. We lived in MI when the account was openned. However, this now appears on my credit report and that of one of my children who is now an adult. They also list the CA address as one of our addresses, however, neither my children nor I have ever lived there. I have contacted the credit agencies, as has my daughter - to no avail. Now I'm being contacted by a debt collector, and my concern is that all my children will see this on their credit reports once they turn 18. My husband and I are separated, but have no formal separation agreement - he has not supported us financially for over 8 years. He refuses to pay this debt, and I have no idea whether or not he even has the ability to pay it. I don't wish to pursue fraud charges against him. Do my children and I have any recourse to avoid being held liable for this debt?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2011
      Bill
      A collection agent is not your attorney. The legal advice dispensed by collection agents is usually incomplete or wrong, and is always self serving.

      The collection agent is completely incorrect when he or she states that authorized users have liability for unpaid credit card debt. If you or your children are authorized users / authorized signers, they would be wasting their money if they paid the collection agent a dime.

      Although authorized users / authorized signers do not have liability to pay the debt, their credit scores will be harmed when the account becomes delinquent.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    Joan
    A friend was engaged and recently broke off the engagement. she was a liable, credit cardholder on their 'joint' account. he closed the account, but she was still able to get a replacement card as she is a card holder. She charged items on the card and now he is telling her the charges were fradulent and he's threatening to take her to court. Can he?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2011
      Bill
      Fraud requires intent. Is she intending to pay all of the charges she makes? If so, I doubt there is sufficient evidence to prove fraud. However, if she fails to make timely payments, then malevolent intent can be inferred.

      The "she" here should have applied for a credit card on her own. She inadvertently or by design is placing liability for her charges on her ex-boyfriend, which is reprehensible.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2011
    lucy
    I have a 25k cc debt. 90% incurred prior to my marriage. Will my spouse be responsible for debt if I stop paying? Will they be responsible only with what has incurred while married? My debt has actually stayed the same since married, I spent and paid off the same amount every month. What will they be responsible for? Can their wages be garnished? If I am currently not working (anticipating a settlement at a future date), what will they be responsible for either in tx or ca? Thanks
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Jan, 2011
      Bill
      Your spouse is not responsible for debts you incurred prior to marriage. Your spouse is responsible for debts on any credit cards or accounts where he was listed as a co-account holder with you. The two states you listed, Texas and California, are both community property states. In community property states, all property and all debts that the couple acquires during the marriage are divided equally. This means that a creditor could first come after you, if you are the only one listed on the account, but eventually could come after your spouse, too, in a law suit to collect on the debt. His wages could be garnished, if he is deemed responsible for the debt due to it being a community property debt. Until he is made responsible, either as a co-account holder or by the court due to community property status, he cannot be garnished for your debt. Keep in mind that if you have a judgment against you, your bank account can be levied, in addition to your wages being garnished. If your spouse is not responsible for the debt, but shares a bank account with you, any funds he deposits into the account could be levied, too. Given the size of your debt, I recommend that you look at credit counseling and debt settlement as ways for you to get out of debt faster.
      0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Bill
    Consult with an attorney in Oregon who has experience defending contractors. First, if your business was incorporated at the time of the construction, I would be surprised you and not the corporation would have liability for the alleged defects. Second, some contractors have insurance for this type of lawsuit, and I would be curious to review all of your insurance policies that were in effect at the time of construction. An attorney will be able to review your policies and advise you accordingly. Third, I am untrained in Oregon's community property law, and am uncertain if the community has liability when one of the spouses has a judgment against them. My guess is it does, but a guess is not a good enough answer and certainly not what you need. For these three reasons I want you to consult with an attorney. If you cannot afford one, call your county bar association and ask for the name of the organization that assists low- and no-income people in your area. Make an appointment with that organization and bring all of the documents I mentioned above to that meeting. Regarding bankruptcy, this type of judgment can be discharged in a bankruptcy.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Oct, 2010
    Gene
    I was a contractor in the state of Oregon. I finished a project at the end of 2008. I then went out of business because of lack of work. I have been out of work sense then and have closed the business and started going back to school. I received a letter stating I am being sued for damages resulting in poor workmanship. Im told that because I closed the business that Im not protected under corporate law and am being sued personally. They're asking for 30000 to 60000 in damages. Sense closing the company I have been unemployed. I have lost my house to foreclosure and moved into a apartment with my wife. If I receive a judgement for this huge amount of money I don't know how I could begin to pay it back. Is this sort of judgement bankruptable? I don't want to ruin my wifes credit, is there anything we can do so she is exempt. She is not listed in the lawsuit right now but I was worried they could garnish her wages. HELP.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2010
    Bill
    I cannot say for certain whether your husband will or won't be liable. Generally speaking when it is only one spouse that acquired the debt, no co-signer, then that spouse is responsible for that debt. However, if both of your names are on the card, with your husband being a joint borrower, then it is possible that a collections company can try to collect from him as well.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Jessi
    I live in Louisiana I have 6,ooo dollars of debt on one card.It is almost 6 months in arear.I am not able to pay at this time. Will my husband be liable to pay if this goes to collections or if i get sued. Thank you for your time.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Gigi
    My husband and I met in 2007 and married in 2008 in California. In 2010 I received a call at work from a collection agency. They were trying to collect on a defaulted credit card debt from my husband's ex-wife. My husband was listed as an authorized user. My husband is out on disability, so they were unable to garnish their wages. The company told me they were sending a Sheriff deputy to my work to serve me with court papers. My husband and I were being sued for this debt. They told me since we were married in a community property state I was liable for any of his debt, even if it occurred years before I met him. I have an excellent credit rating, so I agreed to a payment plan so I wouldn't risk my credit being ruined. But, this just doesn't feel right. Is this really California law?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Bill
    Your attorneys are not familiar with fraud or breach of spousal fiduciary duty? My guess -- note that word choice -- is that Georgia case law does not have many cases that have gone to higher Georgia courts regarding facts similar to yours. It would be unfair and unreasonable for one spouse to profit at the expense of the other by opening secret credit card accounts using the forged signature of the spouse, and then leaving that spouse to pay the bill upon divorce. If your attorney cannot find Georgia case law on this matter then you need to find a more aggressive attorney who will represent you more vigorously.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    tommy
    I found out two years ago when attempting to refinance my home that I had significant debt on my credit report. I later discovered that my wife of eighteen years had taken four of my credit cards, which are in my name only and she is not on any of the accounts or credit applications and charged up to sixty thousand dollars in debt and having the credit card companies to change the mailing address for the statements to a P.O. box which is in her name only. I then filed for divorce which is still pending. I had one of the cards before we were married. She even forged my name on the convience checks that arrive with the credit card bills. Am I responsible for this debt or do I have a defense for the credit card companies allowing her to change the mailing address to her P.O. Box. She apparently had the address changed online. The companies never contacted me about any changes. We live in Georgia. The attorneys are not too familiar with this kind of issue. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Tommy
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Bill
    The collection agents are telling your girlfriend nonsense. Consult with an attorney about filing civil charges against the ex-spouse for fraud. Also, bring the evidence to the district attorney in your county to learn if he or she believes there is a case of criminal fraud.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Aug, 2010
    Matt
    My girlfriend's former spouse took out five credit cards in my girlfriend's name while they were married. Each card has a small balance of about $600-700 and each card was taken out online using her information. She was not aware that the cards had been taken out and did not authorize her ex-husband to take out the cards. He was paying the minimum payment on the cards each month while they were married but hid the statements from her. Since the divorce, he stopped paying on the cards and she only found out about them because we pulled her credit report after she started receiving harassing phone calls from the banks. We live in a separate property state but the credit card companies continue to call and harass her and continue to report negative payment hisory on her credit report. They say she is responsible because they are in her name and they have her information. She wants to settle with the credit card companies to hopefully save her credit. Is there anything she can do to get these debts and the negative payment history removed from her credit reports and not have to pay these accounts?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    I wish you would have used more precise language in your question. Who filed bankruptcy? Both or one of you? Were you a guarantor of your spouse's medical procedures? If your spouse filed Chapter 7 and you were not a guarantor, then dispute the listings for your spouse's procedures that appear on your report.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Jason
    My wife of 4 years was diagnosed with breast cancer on nov of 2008 without medical insurance. We had to go through with the treatment saying no was not an option. As we were getting overwhelmed with the medical we sought legal help for a chapter 7 bankrupcy and were prepared to get a divorce(on paper) to protect what few assests we had left.House,car,and business were all mine for 12 years before we got married and all in just my name. the bankruptcy was discharged 7/09 and in 5/10 the hospital Bills from different collections agencys appreared on my credit report. I went from a 780 to a 510 overnight. I contacted a attorney to represent me and he wanted a $2400 retainer. These bills amount to 3500 i never made these bills they are not mine and were discharged in the chap 7.i am unsure were to go from here. I live in Indiana
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Bill
    Credit reports are notorious for their inaccuracies. Dispute the incorrect entry on your credit report with TransUnion and the other two major credit reporting agencies, if they got it wrong, too.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jun, 2010
    Chris
    My wife has a debt with Washington Mutual, which is now Chase. The debt was incurred a couple years before we got married. Since the Chase acquisition, another company bought the debt. They've now reported this debt on my credit file and it is showing up on TransUnion. They are claiming I was a joint account holder, which is completely false. I have never had an account with Washington Mutual, nor jointly with my wife or anyone else. What should I do?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2010
    Bill
    You are asking about Oregon Chapter 108 — Husband and Wife Relationship; Property Rights and related case law, about both I know little. Consult with an Oregon attorney who has experience in Oregon family law. Regarding the debt, see the Bills.com resource What Are My Debt Resolution Options? to learn if bankruptcy is the right option for you or your spouse.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Apr, 2010
    Megan
    My husband and I resided in Oregon for most of our lives until I decided to go to school. We moved to S. Carloina for my internship for 1 yr and then got a job in Washington last year. He has approximately $60,000 in credit card debt, most of it was charged during my two years in school (in oregon) and 1 yr of externship in S. Carolina for living expenses, etc. I am not listed on his credit cards. We have only a joint savings account together. He also has two homes on his credit which I am not listed on. I'm making ok money now, but we are struggling because we pay over $2200 a month in credit card bills and $850 in school loans a month. Can he file for Chapter 7 and have his debt wiped away without creditors coming after me? We have been thinking about a divorce. Would I still be liable if we were divorced? Would we be forced to file a Chapter 13 and "re-organize" our bills because of my good income?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Mar, 2010
    Rick
    i'll try to get her taken off and just left on the primary or I am just stuck with poor credit for seven years? I appreciate your help!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Many credit card companies report their card payment histories on the credit reports of both the primary cardholder and any authorized users. Reporting accounts on the credit reports of authorized users is allowed by federal law, despite the fact that authorized users are not legally liable for the debts.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Lori
    I just applied for an auto loan to find out that a charge-off was on my credit report. This was a credit card that my husband had opened and ran up. I am listed soley as an "authorized user" not a joint applicant nor cosigner. The compnay refuses to speak with me because I am not on the account ?? I am in Ohio which is not a commmunity state. Can I get this off my report?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Your questions require answers that are too long to fit here, and I would be doing you a disservice to try to summarize your options. Please see the following Bills.com resources: What Are My Debt Resolution Options? to get a better understanding of how to handle your credit card debt. Regarding the repossession question, see All about voluntary repossession. Finally regarding the student loan, see Student Loan Bankruptcy and the Bills.com Bankruptcy page.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Diane
    I had credit cards before my husband and I married, and of course his name is on none of them anywhere. I also have a car loan, again in my previous name. I have had health problems recently and will have to let the car go back and the credit cards go. I haven't ever had a car repossessed before. Will this effect his credit in any way? We have separate bank accounts because I owed the debts. Do I need to file bankruptcy? I have student loans that I have been paying one and have a 1 year deferment on the other and will not default on. Can I file bankruptcy and leave the student loans out of it? We live in Texas. Thanks!
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Your message lacks information on how the bank is "making her pay" or other facts that would provide clues that I could use to provide a useful observation. I suggest you consult with an attorney in your state who has experience in consumer law, who will be able to review your situation in person, interview you and your spouse to determine her liability, and advise you accordingly.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    KATHY
    KEY BANK OF OHIO SAY MY WIFE IF LIABLE FOR DEBT I DEFALUTED ON SHE NEVER USED ANY OF IT HOW CAN I STOP THEM FROM MAKING HER PAY?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Bill
    Call the sheriff and learn what he or she wants. Avoiding a law-enforcement officer who wants to talk to you is not a viable long-term strategy. A Georgia attorney will be able to give you a more precise answer to your questions than I because he or she will be able to read the summons and complaint, review the documents relating to your debt, and ask where you incurred the debt and signed the debt contract (i.e., California or Georgia).
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Feb, 2010
    Daniel
    I lived in California before and I just moved to Georgia about 4 years ago. Do I consider myself as a Non-Community Property State? I have about $100K in credit card debt. One of them just sent a court paper with noticed of 30 days t contact them. I did contact them and tried to work out a payment plan but I failed to called them back within approapriate times. I have a business from a Sheriff department asked me to contact them. What can I do? I think I just have a default judgment against me. Urgent
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    Bill
    I urge you to consult with a Texas attorney with experience in civil litigation. I am not a Texas attorney. The request for your pre-marital financial records strikes me as objectionable because it appears to be overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. However, a Texas attorney with whom you consult will be able to understand your entire situation, read the subpoena in its entirety, and thereby reach a precise legal opinion.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Jan, 2010
    tanya
    My husband has a judgdment against him for some work he did as a contractor. We are married, live in Texas. He and I do not comingle our money. I don't even go by his last name. I have been subpoenaed for a deposition duces tecum and they are asking for my tax returns from prior to our marriage (he and I file separately) and my personal credit information. Is this discoverable?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Bill
    If your mother signed the contracts for the credit cards in question then she is jointly liable for the debt. However, if she did not sign the contracts then she still has liability if the expenses are family related. Commodities trading is not a family expense under Utah law. See Utah Code Ann. Section 30-2-5 for more details.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    kenton
    My father used credit cards to finance his efforts at commodity trading. Most of the time he goes bust within a year, begging for money to cover the debts from my mother who has now bailed him out three times. She did so not out of desire to help him continue trading, but to avoid making the large debts bigger through missed payments, fines and the like. They live in the state of Utah. To what degree is my mother liable for my father's debts?
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Bill
    A non-signatory spouse to a loan contract does not share in his or her spouse's liability in non-community property states. Florida is not a community property state. Therefore, non-signatory spouses to loan contracts in Florida do not share liability for a spouse's debt. I encourage you and your spouse to discuss this issue with your spouse's bankruptcy attorney.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    maria
    i have several credit cards with very high balances ( over $ 40.000 and all only under my name). My income have been reduced to just $ 800 and beside I have a very serius health condition that doesn't let me work like before. Now I am thinking in filing for chapter 13 but my husband is afraid he will be responsible for my debt ( since he has a very good and stable job ) Can I file for chapter 13 without put him in risk that he needs to pay for my credit cards?? florida. Thanks.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Bill
    Work with your divorce attorney on this matter. At minimum, you will create and sign an affidavit stating that you were unaware of these debts and did not execute the agreements when your soon-to-be-ex-spouse opened the accounts.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Dec, 2009
    Debbie
    My spouse has opened numerous credit cards in his name and using my credit worthiness and access to the banks I have history with, even listing me as joint account holder on these cards - without my knowledge what so ever - and now the debt has grown to over $70,000 and I just found out about it - he's been hiding it all from me all this time - we are in the process of getting a divorce - how can I completely disassociate myself from this debt and get my name off these credit card accounts and make sure none of this is reflected on my credut report? Please help me, I live in Colorado, thank you.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    Bill
    This question stumps me. You say you are neither a co-signer or authorized user, but this account appears on your credit report. This is a long-shot, but you mentioned you reside in a community property state. Which one?

    Update: The reader followed up with this clarification: The reader was a an authorized user of the account in the past, but had since been removed. In light of this additional fact, it is clear that the credit bureau is uninformed of your new status. Send the credit bureaus reporting this erroneous information a "dispute listing" letter, a sample of which you can find at the Bills.com self-help center.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Nov, 2009
    John
    Along the same lines, my wife has a credit card that I do not have access to use. She uses it to make purchases for herself and the family. We live in a community property state. Since I am equally responsible for the bill, do I have a legal right to the statements? I've talked to the credit card company and they refuse to give me any information since I am not an authorized user. This account showed up on my credit report with a balance of 25K hence my concern.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    Tim, I think you have a bigger problem than a derogatory entry on your credit report. You may be liable for the balance on the Discover card if your ex-spouse has defaulted. I suggest you consult with your divorce attorney to learn your rights in your state if that's what happened here. If not and the account is now current, then I suggest you dispute the listing. See the dispute listing sample letter at the Bills.com Debt Do-it-yourself center.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Bill
    The Visa account is subject to the "stay" ordered by the bankruptcy court. It is not surprising that your bank is not sending you statements or otherwise communicating with you with the stay in place. I suggest you speak to your divorce attorney about this matter. My guess -- note that word choice -- is that your attorney will recommend you to cease making payments until your ex-spouse's bankruptcy case is finalized and the Visa account in question is discharged (or not). If you are a co-signer (and not just an authorized user) of the Visa account, you are liable for any amount not discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
    0 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Tim
    My e-wife had me on a discover card as an authorized borrower. Which should have been removed 30 days after the divorce. Which she stopped paying on 1 year later. Which was reported to my credit report. Now what do I do? Thanks Tim
    2 Votes

  • 35x35
    Sep, 2009
    Gerald
    Prior to my divorce my wife charged on a joint Visa Credit Card over $10,000. the card had a zero balance prior to her charges. I have been making payments since the divorce. Six months after the divorce my exwife filed chapter 13 Bankruptcy and included this credit card debt. The credit card company has frozen the credit card and stopped sending me statements. They have refused to talk to me about the Credit card bill. I have sent in payments to them for the last two months but they refuse to reply to my inquires. I live in California, Am I still responsiable for this credit card debt ?
    0 Votes

    • 35x35
      Dec, 2010
      Julian
      Yes u are. The creditor may not legally contact you while she is in BK but you are still liable for the debt the second her BK is over even if she is discharged.
      0 Votes