In a marriage, absent any legal documentation to the contrary, can either spouse refuse payment for the credit card debt of the other spouse?

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In a marriage, absent any legal documentation to the contrary, can either spouse refuse payment for the credit card debt of the other spouse?

Married for 12 years.  My wife is and has been the sole wage earner and the “primary” on joint credit cards and bank accounts. Recently she took my name off all joint cards and is keeping the bare minimum in checking and savings accounts. I have had to get credit cards in MY name in order to buy gas, food, groceries etc. for the family: me, her, and our child. By leaving our bank acctounts close to zero, I can not pay the bills when they are due but since the cards are not in her name she says she is not liable for them. Is that legally true?

Asked on October 6, 2011 under Family Law, Maryland

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Well, if the facts are as you state here - that the credit cards were taken out to pay for necessities or for family expenses - then the debt is still considered to be marital debt even though it is incurred only in your name.  Also, because it is incurred during the marriage, it has the appearancee in the first instance of being marital debt. And her wages - earned during the marriage - are a marital asset as well.  I think that you should get things moving with regard to seeking legal counsel here and getting your wife to provide you enough money to support you and your family.  Good luck to you.


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