Let’s make one thing clear from the start: Pennsylvania requires spouses to take care of each other. That applies mainly to what are referred to as “necessaries” in the law, and that encompasses more than food, clothing and shelter. An example of an exception would be a credit card account in the name of one spouse of which the other spouse has no knowledge and which is used only for secret dates and/or purchases for a secret boyfriend or girlfriend or time spent in secret gambling at a casino.
Something I hear from time to time is “Why should I be responsible for that card? it’s only in my spouse’s name and I’m not on that card, not even on the application my spouse filled out for that card.” The answer is because there are purchases on that card that benefited the marriage, like food for a lunch or a pair of gloves for your spouse. It is exactly the same as when one spouse cashes a paycheck and stops after work for a beer and a sandwich. Spending is spending is the law’s view, whether it is cash or credit.
There can be extreme examples wherein one spouse, without consulting the other, charges numerous and/or very expensive luxury items and it might be successfully argued that such items do not qualify as “necessaries” and the responsibility for such purchases belongs solely to the purchasing spouse. Be prepared for questions such as, “What did you do when you discovered those purchases?” If the answer is that you did nothing, the law could say that you approved those purchases and even condoned such future purchases.
In general, as I hope it is now understood – whether or not one may like it – spouses are indeed responsible for one another’s credit card debt.