One of the scariest things about getting married is how you combine your financial circumstances with your spouse’s. When they do irresponsible or possibly illegal things, their actions could lead to consequences for both of you. If they empty your savings account or accrue huge amounts of debt, you will share those losses with them.
Perhaps your spouse has a long history of financial misconduct, which is one of the reasons why you decided to separate legally. Maybe you decided to separate because they effectively abandoned you. Now, despite your separate households, you find yourself very worried because the state has charged your ex with some kind of credit card fraud.
Are you legally vulnerable in this situation?
When your spouse used a credit card without permission
Credit card fraud can come in many forms. Fraud between spouses is surprisingly common. Your spouse might use a credit card that is only in your name because they think you will be the one that has to pay the bill. They might even take out a new card in your name without telling you.
Although it will likely require that you file a police report and agree to cooperate in any prosecution that results, you have protection under anti-fraud laws from your spouse using your financial resources without your permission. You will have to notify the credit card company and the appropriate authorities that your spouse used a card without your consent or knowledge.
When you benefit from your spouse’s credit card fraud
Sometimes, you are not the victim of your spouse’s post-separation credit card fraud but rather the beneficiary of it.
Your ex might use fraudulent credit card transactions in someone else’s name to cover their support obligations to you or your shared children. They could also have ill-gotten merchandise sent to your house or even give you cash obtained with a cash advance on someone’s credit card. If you were unaware of your spouse’s fraud, you can likely defend yourself against charges related to their activity, although you may still have to return the money or assets you receive because of their misconduct.
Learning more about credit card fraud could help you defend against criminal charges that result from your spouse has bad behavior.