Bankruptcy: My Wife Got Credit Cards Without Telling Me

woman and papers

Question: My wife admitted to me that she has opened credit card accounts without telling me. She said she got Botox injections, bought expensive clothing, went to spas and even got plastic surgery and paid for it with the credit cards.

At the time she told me that her mother was paying for everything. She told me her mother said that she could use a little Botox and that her nose and breasts would benefit from surgery.

I believed her because her mother has helped pay for hair extensions and she paid for her to get help for her anorexia. So I didn't think that she'd lie about it. But two nights ago she came into the house crying and said that she owed over $50,000 on credit cards. I thought she was talking about the cards I knew about and said we only owed less than $1,000. That's when she admitted opening up accounts and not telling me about it. She said she never actually made any payments to any of the credit card companies.

She said that she wanted to look better and maybe even be an actress in movies. But she has never acted in anything. So I think she may have mental issues that require treatment.

My questions are can she file bankruptcy alone without me filing and can she even file bankruptcy for credit cards that she never made a payment for?

H.B. in Dunwoody, GA

Answer: Don't worry; one spouse can file bankruptcy without the need for the other spouse to file. Actually, it's quite common for just one spouse to file. As long as you are not legally obligated on the card, she can file alone and totally get rid of the debt. If, however, she got the card by somehow using your name, then to discharge the debt you both would have to file, because you both are then liable.

The fact that she has never made a payment on the cards will not prohibit her from filing bankruptcy. There is certainly no legal requirement that any payments have to be made before she would be eligible to file a chapter 7 or a chapter 13.

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