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If a Spouse Incurs Credit Card Debt in His Name Only, Is His Wife Ever Responsible for That Debt?

Question: If a spouse incurs credit card debt in his name only, is his wife ever responsible for that debt?

Answer: Probably not, but it may take a lawsuit to determine the question. Under the federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act, one spouse may contract on his/her own for credit, without involving the other spouse. There is a state Family Expense Act which makes both spouses liable for “necessaries,” but it is probably preempted by the federal law. It is also unclear if it ever would apply to a lender, as opposed to an actual provider of goods and services.

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