Round Rock, TX asked in Banking and Consumer Law for Texas

Q: Will taking me off as an auth user on cr-cards my husband opened without my knowledge remove them from my credit report?

I'm looking at divorcing my narcissistic husband. I need to know if his bad credit card habit is going to continue to drag down my credit rating and if I'm going to be stuck paying them. The cards were obtained without my knowledge, and he named me as an authorized user. Our finances are horrible due to his spending, and I need to know if I'm still going to be screwed even if I can get him to remove me from these cards.

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1 Lawyer Answer
John Michael Frick
John Michael Frick
  • Business Law Lawyer
  • Frisco, TX
  • Licensed in Texas

A: There is a difference between having a joint credit card and being an authorized user on someone else's credit card.

With a joint credit card, two (or more) individuals agree with the company issuing the credit card to be jointly responsible for all charges made on the credit card. Opening a joint credit card account requires both your knowledge and your agreement. For purposes of credit reports and credit ratings, both (or all) of the individuals on a joint account are contractually liable to the company for payment, so any late or non-payment affects both (or all) of those individuals.

On the other hand, a person (or business) can open a credit card account and agree with the company issuing the credit card that certain individuals are authorized users of that account. In that instance, the person (or business) agrees with the company that he/she (or it) will be responsible for all charges made on the credit card by the authorized users of that account. Because the authorized user is not contractually liable to the company for payment of the account, any late or non-payment of the account does not affect the authorized user.

As between and authorized user and the person (or business) that opened the account, there are occasions when an authorized user can be legally responsible to that person (or business) either by vritue of an agreement between them or for exceeding the scope of their authority in using the credit card. The latter is much more common in instances where an employee of a business misuses the business credit card to make personal purchases. This type of agreement or misuse does not affect the obligation of the person (or business) that opened the account to pay the company issuing the credit card. Unless and until a judgment is entered against the authorized user either for breaching a separate agreement with the account holder or misusing the credit card, this type of legal liability will not impact the user's credit report or rating.

By law in Texas, the mere existence of the marriage does not automatically make each spouse legally responsible for the debts incurred by the other spouse. A person is personally liable for the debts incurred by a spouse ONLY if (1) their spouse is acting as an agent of the person, or (2) the spouse incurs a debt for "necessaries"--things like food, clothing, utilities, health care, and habitation. Therefore, whether you are legally responsible depends on what any charges were for. But, even in this instance, unless and until a credit card company successfully gets a judgment against you, this type of spousal liability for necessaries will not impact your credit report or rating.

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