I defaulted on a credit card in my name, can my husband be held legally reponsible for repayment?

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I defaulted on a credit card in my name, can my husband be held legally reponsible for repayment?

I have no savings, bonds, etc, do not have a job. My husband is sole owner of our home. Can they take his 401k , income tax return, or garnish his wages/assets for this judgement?

Asked on September 28, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Generally, one spouse is not obligated to pay the debts of the other spouse. Although there are exceptions. The first has to do with just where you live. If you live in a community property state, you would typically bear responsibility for a spouse's debt. However, PA is not such a state. The second exception would be if your husband in some other way agreed to be legally bound for re-payments on the card. Since you did not indicate, I assume that this is not the case here. The last exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessities". This doctrine was established at common law, and while many states no longer follow it, some states have actually made it statutory law. Under the “doctrine of necessities”, one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage. This holds true for any debt but particularly for medical bills which are deemed to almost always be “necessary”. Technically PA has such a doctrine, although it is in disfavor in legal circles. Since you didn't indicate what the debt was for, this doctrine may or may not apply to your situation.

Note: To the extent that you have joint assets, they are at risk.


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