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Am I responsible for my spouse's credit card debts? 

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This is a question many people ask either when a spouse passes away, or when a married couple is facing a divorce or a separation and doesn't understand the legal ramifications of debt.


The answer is this: It depends. If it is a joint account, in both spouse's names, you are both equally responsible, regardless of who spent the money. While the credit card debt belongs to you both, payment of it will likely be decided by a divorce court. At either rate, if it is not paid, it will harm both spouses' credit. If one spouse runs up the credit card bill and refuses to pay it, both spouse's will suffer.


If the credit card was only in one spouse's name, then only that spouse is responsible for the debt, with one caveat: In community property states, the debt is distributed to both spouses just as the assets are. If you are planning a divorce, or have recently separated, you should notify the credit card company and either cancel the cards, or withdraw authorization for your spouse to use the card.

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