Asked in Divorce and Family Law for Virginia

Q: If I turn off MY credit card that my husband uses, before being legally separated, is that financial abuse.

I am the primary breadwinner. All finances, including a house and two cars, are in my name. My husband uses my credit card when he's between jobs, but he's now always between jobs or perhaps lying about being paid. He has terrible credit and can't get a card or loan on his own. He left the home this week and is still using my card. I can't see a lawyer for two weeks due to my work schedule. I'm trying to figure out if I can turn the card off to keep him from getting me more in debt, over 20k already over the past couple years. I just don't want the court to interpret that negatively. He's a grown man who could work a job if he wanted, but he tries to run his own business even though he doesn't make any money. We also have a toddler with special needs that I'm always primarily responsible for.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Matthew Lane Kreitzer

  • Winchester, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Financial abuse, no. Marital waste? Yes. Will it harm your divorce? Yes. Consult a lawyer before taking any action.

Wayne E. Holcomb

  • Yorktown/Newport News, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: I do not think turning off a marital credit card, that has a high balance, that is still growing against your will and exposing you to potential negative financial blow back, particularly after a spouse has left the marital home in a separation period, is a legal issue at all. It makes sense. It might be "nice" to let him know when you do it, but legally, my opinion is that I don't think that will hurt you. In fact, the debt he is building now, during a separation period, is more than likely his "separate" debt. Limiting access to funds or credit during a separation period is usually only a problem if it is putting someone in danger of starving or living under a bridge. It sounds like he'll be fine.

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