No one wants to deal with credit card debt. Yet, people do have to deal with such debt. That means they might have to alter their life in order to properly address it. This can be troublesome when you only have to deal with your own debt. Imagine having to deal with the debt of a spouse.
Yes, there are complexities that arise when one spouse has run up debt on a credit card and the debt can negatively impact the other spouse's finances.
Marriage has many serious issues that need to be addressed. When a man and a woman are married, they share a great many financial responsibilities ranging from banking to taxes to property issues. Within these financial responsibilities will be issues related to lending.
In particular, spouses will apply for credit cards and, of course, use them. In most instances, this is not a problem. However, there will be instances where running up credit card debt could prove highly problematic for one spouse.
When Problems Arise
Imagine if you are looking at an impending divorce and one spouse has a massive amount of credit card debt. Such a problem could raise its head in the aftermath of the unfortunate passing of a spouse. Even in the situation where you seek to apply for a credit card in your name alone, sues of whether or not your spouse has credit card might be of a serious concern.
Or do they really have to be much of a concern? Rather than speculate over such issues, it would be best to get to the heart of the matter and actually answer the actual question: does your spouse's credit card debt impact you? Do you need to pay off debt run up by a spouse?
Here is a look at the answers to these questions...
The Single Account
When a husband and wife has credit card debt that is present on a card that only lists one spouse and the other spouse is not listed as a co-signer, the spouse that is not part of the account will not be obligated to pay the debt the spouse owes. This is the generally accepted rule. Are there any particular exceptions to this? The only possible exception would be found in such states which are known as community property states.
Community Property States
In community property states, there may be different answers depending upon the particular state that you live in. Some states will look at the possessions of a husband and wife to be shared equally. Such concept of possessions can actually be extended to the debt of a spouse.
That means your spouse's debt may become your debt as well. The key point here is that you need to examine the word "may" a little closer. Why is this so? The rules might be different depending upon where you actually reside.
There are several community property states. The community property states are as follows: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Depending upon where you live, your may incur the debts of your spouse.
But, do not assume that there is anything uniform in terms of how community property and debt work. Each state has its own laws passed by its own legislature. This means what may be law in Texas might not apply at all in Nevada and what is law in Nevada may not apply to the other states.
This means you cannot make any assumptions about one state based on your insight into what occurs in another state. Actually, you should not make any assumptions in any manner whatsoever as only serious research into community property laws will actually yield an accurate assessment.
Seek Out an Attorney
Here is some very helpful advice: do not make any assumptions about the law on your own. Never try to guess about any interpretations of the law. Don't try to ask questions on website message boards. None of these steps will yield results that are reliable.
No, if you serious questions or concerns about being responsible for the debt owed, you need to seek out the advice of a qualified attorney. There is no way around this! A qualified and experienced attorney can provide you with the accurate legal advice you need to know in order to learn exactly what your obligations are if they do indeed exist.
Just take the extra steps needed to ensure you are speaking with an attorney that is qualified to answer such questions. You do not want to work with a "generic" attorney. You will want to discuss such matter with an attorney that truly understands financial laws to a high degree of skill. You never want to hire an attorney that is speculating on such things. Why seek the help of a professional only to acquire speculation. That would hardly be a wise move to follow.
The Preventive Approach
The best way to avoid any issues of dealing with a spouse's debt would be to avoid amassing the debt in the first place. Always take the time out to discuss issues of finances with your spouse. This way, you can curtail any excess borrowing before it reaches critical levels. Once that happens, all manner of serious problems can arise. So, why let it get to levels such as that? Instead, both spouses would be much better off by preventing debt from accruing in the first place. It is much more easier to prevent than to reach credit card debt relief.