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.
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