Debt Problems: Is My Spouse Responsible for My Debts?
Suppose a few years ago when you were single you stopped paying on a credit card debt and the account was written off. Three years later, you're married and suddenly a debt collection agency, who purchased your old written off credit card account from the original creditor, is knocking on your door demanding payment and threatening to garnish, not only your wages, but those of your new husband or wife.
Can a creditor or debt collector go after my new husband or wife for my old debts?
The answer is probably no, but there are conditions in which your new spouse would be liable. For example, if you put the spouse's name on the credit card account as a joint accountholder, he or she could be held liable, even if you put his or her name on the card account as a joint accountholder after you incurred all of the debt. This is true even if your new spouse had no idea you are about to default on the card or have already defaulted.
There is another issue surrounding this question, which is, if the debt is old, is it a time-barred debt? The collector might be barred from collecting anything from anybody if the debt is too old.
I am married but have a credit card that is in my name only, which I have recently defaulted on. Can a creditor or debt collector go after my spouse for repayment of this debt even though his name isn't listed on the credit card?
Yes, marriage is like a partnership with each of you jointly liable for any debts incurred during the marriage. It doesn't matter if your spouse is or isn't listed on the card as a joint accountholder, he or she can still be sued, have his wages garnished, etc., just as if he incurred the debt.
I have been living with someone for a long time. Can a debt collector go after him for my delinquent debt, even if we aren't married?
No, a debt collector or creditor cannot go after someone with whom you are living with, even if you've been living together for thirty years. The biggest advantage of living together as man and wife without getting married is that you protect yourself from the financial and legal liabilities of your partner. For example, if your partner became very sick and accumulated a massive amount of medical debt, you would be liable for it if you are married to that person, but you wouldn't be liable if you are just living together.