Are Spouses Responsible for the Other’s Debt?


Before agreeing to pay a debt of a spouse that you do not think you owe, Alabama Consumers should be wary of claims from aggressive and harassing debt collectors. We recently ran across a blog post from the The Divorce Blog entitled, “Woman Pursued for Deceased Ex-Husband’s Debt” that reminded us of some of the pitfalls and horror stories we’ve heard from clients about being pursued for a debt that is not even theirs.

In this article, Ms. Killian started receiving calls from a debt collector for a department store credit card that her husband had opened. Simply put, Ms. Killian not owe the debt. The debt was solely her husband’s as she was not jointly on the account. Additionally, Ms. Killian believed she would be able to get the matter cleared up quickly and without too much difficulty for two additional reasons. Her husband had passed away and they had been divorced two years prior to his death.

Despite Ms. Killian sending documentation showing she had no responsibility for the debt, none of this mattered to the debt collectors. They called her repeatedly on her home and cell phones attempting to get her to pay for her deceased, ex-husband’s debt. She was only able to get the matter resolved after three years and after involving a Chicago Tribune columnist’s help.

This is a good reminder for Alabama consumers that you need to know your rights both when taking out or co-signing for credit cards or other debt and if you are being harassed by debt collectors.

In our experience, unscrupulous debt collectors will often tell spouses or ex-spouses they are responsible for the debts of their spouse simply because they were married. This is simply not the case.

If you are being contacted or harassed by a debt collector over a debt that you do not believe you owe, you should contact an attorney before agreeing to pay off the debt. Don’t let an unscrupulous debt collector talk you into paying a debt just to stop them from harassing you or because of their baseless threats.

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