Am I liable for my husband’s credit cards?

husband's credit cardsNo, you are generally not liable for your husband’s credit card debt if you were not a co-signer for the credit card account or your husband did not use your income to qualify for the credit card. However, you might be responsible under regulations regarding community property depending on which state you live in.

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You may also be liable for the debt in some states if the proceeds were used for joint purposes, meaning that the credit card was used to charge certain merchandise, or pay bills, make loan payments or cover other household expenses that you both share.

What can I do to resolve a dispute?

According to FreeAdvice, if you are being chased for a credit card bill in your spouse’s name, you should ask for a copy of the original contract, which the advisor says, will stop the company from pursuing you further.

Another question arises if your husband gave you a credit card that he had applied for alone and listed you as an authorized credit card user. Technically, you are not responsible for the debt your husband signed for, even though you used the card, but this can be difficult to prove unless the credit card issuer is cooperative in providing documentation.

According to MSN Money, while you may not technically be responsible for credit card bills your husband ran up, even before your marriage, this sort of behavior may be indicative of other more serious financial problems that you’ll end up having to eventually pay for.

For questions like this, it is always best to consult an attorney in the area in which you live, as laws vary from state to state. Find a reliable and trusted legal specialist who is up-to-date on current legislation and familiar with community property laws if they apply in your state.

What is community property?

There are currently nine states, which are regarded as community property states. These include:

  • California
  • Arizona
  • Louisiana
  • Idaho
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • Wisconsin
  • Texas
  • Washington State

In Alaska, married couples may opt to follow community property guidelines if they choose.

In these nine states, property and debts that are accumulated by either spouse during the term of a marriage are considered to belong to both partners in the marriage.

Upon divorce or termination of the relationship, this community property would be divided evenly between the two partners. Debts incurred by the couple would be split equally as well.

Things to consider if you live in a community property state:

  • His credit card debt can become your debt even if you didn’t sign for the card.
  • Laws vary in community property states as to when a marriage ends and separate rights begin again.
  • Property and debts acquired prior to a marriage are considered separate property but will have to be proved as such.

When dividing property, the courts may look at an equitable solution based on each partner’s financial situation, rather than a dollar for dollar split. They will usually not consider which partner is responsible, or to blame.

There are other things you can I do to resolve disagreements over credit card debt.

liable for husband's credit cardsPay off the debt!

Credit card companies understand that sorting out debts incurred in a marriage is a tedious and time-consuming legal process. They are hoping that you will agree to pay your husband’s credit card bills simply because it is easier to pay off a debt than to argue who is responsible during which time the outstanding balance will certainly continue to increase.

Negotiate an equitable settlement with your husband!

This may be easier said than done, but if you intend to dissolve your marriage and go your separate ways, it is far better to come to a mutually beneficial or at least equitable arrangement on who will be responsible for credit card bills and other debts incurred during the course of the marriage. It’s to your advantage to do this before a court enforces a settlement on you!

File for bankruptcy!

If you can’t agree on a reasonable settlement of your debts, filing bankruptcy may become the only avenue remaining to you. Bankruptcy should only be considered as a last resort for the most severe set of financial circumstances.

However, if your husband is denying responsibility for credit card debts and other bills, or if he is already determined to escape his obligations through bankruptcy proceedings, then you are well advised to at least consider the possibility of joining his bankruptcy petition or filing one on your own.

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