Is a spouse responsible for credit card debt owed solely by the other spouse?

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Is a spouse responsible for credit card debt owed solely by the other spouse?

If a wife takes out a loan but the husband does not sign on it, is the husband responsible for the loan in NC?

Asked on March 16, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, North Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that one spouse is not legally responsible to pay for another spouse's debts.  Exceptions would be if the other spouse agreed to be legally obligated for such a debt   unless they specifically agree to be (not applicable in this case) or the couple resides in a community property state (NC is not).  Additionally, a spouse may be held liable in some states for bills that are necessary for the maintenance of the household known as the (the "doctrine of necessaries").   And NC is such a state.  Depending on the nature of the debt, a court may have to decide if the spouse's debt is a family expense.  If it is, the innocent spouse can be held liable.  If a judgment is obtained by a creditor, that spouse's wages can be garnished and other non-exempt assets seized. 


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