What is a husband’s liability for his wife’s credit card debt?

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What is a husband’s liability for his wife’s credit card debt?

Wife has credit card in her name and is the only one using it. Can the husband be held liable for the balance and can the husband’s wages be garnished if wife fails to pay?

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that 1 spouse is not legally responsible to pay for another spouse's debts.  That is unless they specifically agree to be (you didn't indicate that you did) or they live in a community property state (which you do not).  Additionally, a spouse may be held liable in some states for bills that are necessary for the maintenance of the household (the "doctrine of necessaries").   A court will have to decide if your wife’s debt is a family expense.  If it is, you can be held liable and if her creditors obtain judgments, your wages can be garnished.  At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area.


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