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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Run my own successful business/contract law practice.
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In wisconsin if a debt collecter serves a sommons for a credit card

Customer Question

In wisconsin if a debt collecter serves a sommons for a credit card debt default that was my wifes that i did not now about and was not notified by the card company they issued the card to her is this marrital property? They are now suing her for default must they also name me as a co defendant and serve me with a summons also? in there complaint they are saying this card is a marital obligation in that the goods or services purchased through the card or money obtained were used in the interest of the marriageor the family of the defendant.i now nothing about this card.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

When was this debt obtained, was it while married or previously? Do you have joint assets or accounts? Was this a card under both names or just hers?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The debt was obtained around the year 2007 or so really unsure.It was while we were married I would guess. Yes we have joint assets and accounts.Just her name I new nothing about it untill about 3 weeks ago.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your follow-up, Jeff. I appreciate the additional information.

Wisconsin is essentially a community property state. That means that all debts and all assets obtained while married are considered communal, whicheans that both parties are equally entitled to the benefits (or reaponsibilities) of that asset or debt. That translates to the fact that if this debt was obtained while married, regardless of your knowledge or consent, the debt is communal and therefore in part yours. The creditors are therefore able to pursue you for this debt even if you yourself had nothing to do with this debt or obligation. Your only defense is if you are pursuing divorce is to attempt to obtain a court order from the judge making your spouse solely responsible. While it will not keep the creditors away from you, it could allow you a cause of action against the spouse if you end up paying for this debt yourself.

I am genuinely sorry.


Dimitry, Esq.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Inaccurate answer.
this was a generic answer.
Expert:  BizIPEsq. replied 4 years ago.
Let me answer your questions,

If the question is whether the debt collector has to name the other spouse in the complaint, then the answer is no. A plaintiff does not have to name a defendant in the complaint even if the defendant is legally co-responsible for the debt.


As noted Wisconsin is a community marital property state. Therefore, all debts of the marriage (including credit cards regardless if one spouse knows about them or not), are the equal responsibility of both spouse. A creditor can legally go after either spouse or after both spouses.


The most common way for a spouse to separate itself from certain marital debt is to file for divorce or legal separation. Wisconsin law presumes all property and debt to be equally divided at the time of the filing. However, in the event one spouse is responsible for incurring more of the debt or didn't even know about the credit cards of the other spouse (as in your case), the court will divide and allocate responsibility for the marital debt. The court will look at the details of your case to decide whether the presumption of an equal division of credit card debt should apply. If the debt was incurred for "marital purposes" such as clothing, food, gas, etc., then in most cases the court will order that credit card debt to be equally divided. On this issue, Wisconsin courts have ruled that a marriage is like a partnership. In many marriages, spouses often disagree about certain financial issues, nonetheless the legal framework of a partnership is that partners are equally responsible for debt of the partnership. However, if the credit card debt resulted from what is called "marital waste", then the court has the ability to deviate from the statutory equal presumption.


Wisconsin defines marital waste as the "dissipation of marital assets for a non-marital purpose." This could be spending related to gambling, drugs and alcohol or even related to an affair. In these situations, the non-incurring "innocent" spouse will most likely not be held responsible for that debt.


In cases when the credit card spending is not clear if it's marital or wasteful, the court has the responsibility to determine a fair and equitable outcome for both spouses and will look at the totality facts and circumstances surrounding the credit card charges.


I trust this answered your question.


Please rate my answer. Without your rating I do not get compensated for my work.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Relist: Answer quality.
Expert:  BizIPEsq. replied 4 years ago.
Could you please explain what information are you looking for?
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 4 years ago.
I see that you rated my answer as 'bad', as did the subsequent professional's response, who happened to more or less provide you with the same information that I did.

"Generic" or not, the answer happens to be correct--in a community property state such as yours, you are responsible for the debt even if you yourself are not listed on the card or had nothing to do with this debt. Rating our answers as 'bad' simply to vent your frustration out on us over something that we have no control over is neither fair nor reasonable, as all I was trying to do is provide you with accurate information even if not always welcoming to you. Or did you prefer that information would be provided to you that is incorrect but sounds more favorable or outright pandering to you? Did you seek correct, even if not always welcoming information, or some sort of a 'feel-good' response that will potentially provide you with false hope and false expectations, not help you resolve this issue, and potentially place you in a more unfavorable position? Please advise as I do not see your ratings in this situation as being reflective of the work provided. Thank you.

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