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Credit Card Debt and Community Property Laws

Married couples, especially those that have been separated for a long time, often assume that one spouse cannot be held responsible for the other spouse's credit card debt unless they are joint account holders. Unfortunately, for couples that live in a community property state, this isn't the case.

In fact, any credit card debts incurred during marriage while living in a community property state are considered jointly owned, regardless of who opened the account or spent the money. So if you're married and live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, we're talking about you.

To protect your personal credit history, make sure you not only stay on top of your own credit cards, but also keep tabs on your spouse's accounts to the greatest extent possible. In addition, review your credit reports today if you're unsure which accounts list you as a joint-account holder, primary cardholder, or just an authorized user.

on Mon, 2010-10-04 17:00