Am I responsible for her debt after divorce if the cards are only in her name?
My wife and I are getting divorced soon. She will be in debt after our divorce. She has been using her credit cards and keeps going deeper into debt. She hasn't paid off her cards since August of 2011 and is now telling the creditors to call my cell phone because she doesn't want to talk to them. Do I have to protect myself from her debt after our divorce?
You should download your credit report to be 100% percent certain that the credit card companies are not asserting a claim against you. Once you have obtained that certainty you should feel comfortable knowing that the credit card companies cannot sue you for any unpaid credit card bills that are in the name of your wife only.
If the credit card companies continue to harass you you should speak to a consumer lawyer in your jurisdiction. You may have remedies under the fair debt collection practices act to stop these calls.
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In Kansas, one spouse may incur debt in their own name that the other spouse is not liable for. One exception is the doctrine of necessities, which means if one spouse incurs a debt for a necessity, such as warm coat in winter or medical expenses, then the other spouse can sometimes be held liable for the debt after divorce. Credit card companies rarely make this argument.
One thing that could change the answer is if the divorce decree orders you to pay her debt after you divorce. Then you are liable to her for damages. You will have to comply with the decree and pay her debt after your divorce. This obligation to her is not discharged in a 7, but is discharged in a 13. This is a reason to either do a joint bankruptcy before the divorce, or do your individual bankruptcy after the divorce is final.
You could have consumer claims against debt collectors who are calling your cell phone, and should consider meeting with a consumer law attorney.
You are not responsible for the debts after the divorce unless you are a co-signer. If not, then tell them to take a hike, it is not your debt.
However, a divorce court could rule that you are partly responsible for the debt after your divorce (if it was for marital expenses or for you or if you benefited in some way). If that is the case, you are only responsible to your ex-spouse, not the creditor.
Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.