The Christmas season is often credit card liability season as well. Credit card liabilities are a frequent source of conflict in separated couples. Clients regularly seek advice about whether or not they are liable for their former partner’s credit card debts, even if the credit card is held in the other party’s name.
All liabilities are taken into account when determining how assets of a relationship are to be divided. Consequently credit card liabilities are considered. It is important that the party who incurred the credit card liability provide all statements showing the expenditure on those credit cards.
Not all credit card liabilities are necessarily shared liabilities. For example expenditure by one party on alcohol, cigarettes and gambling, plastic surgery or vacations would not be treated as matrimonial debts. By contrast, expenditure at Woolworths by a separated couple purchasing household groceries for their children, paying the electricity account for the home, purchasing school shoes, health insurance and gap medical expenses are clearly expenses towards the welfare of children. Often one party may be unaware of what the other party has on their credit card debt but that on its own will not preclude the debt from being a matrimonial one. The issue is how, in effect, the money was spent.