Spousal credit card debt after divorce?

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mlassig
 
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Spousal credit card debt after divorce?

Postby mlassig » Mon Dec 26, 2011 3:13 pm

My wife filed for divorce in the State of Georgia on April 11, 2010.

Soon thereafter she signed her name to my credit card to the tune of $900 for women's clothing.

In Georgia, once a party files there is a standing order which basically means no funny business with money etc.

I have the credit card receipts from Citicard and filed an official dispute of the charges. When I asked the vendor about this they admitted they don't check ID's for regular customers. Is this fraud and if so presumably this gives me some leverage in the divorce proceedings? Anyone had a similar situation?


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Pete838
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Postby Pete838 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:09 pm

mlassig wrote:In Georgia, once a party files there is a standing order which basically means no funny business with money etc.

It sounds like GA already has given you some ammo. I'm sure by now you've gotten her off of your accounts and gotten account numbers changed, but at the time was she an authorized user? If she was authorized you'll have to hash it out in divorce court. If she wasn't authorized then let Citi deal with it.
This was 20 months ago. How long do divorces take in GA?

FYI, merchants are not required to check ID. Generally that is spelled out in the merchant agreement for the processing network (Visa, MC, AMEX, DISC). We discussed that here a few months back, but I can't seem to find it now.
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Capital
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Postby Capital » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:53 pm

Welcome to the boards, mlassig.

Since standing orders in divorce proceedings vary by court jurisdiction and county in Georgia, it is important to state which county you reside in. If your spouse was an authorized user on the account, then no, this is not fraud.

Think of it like this: you opened (possibly with your spouse) an account that had terms that obligate you (or both of you) to repay all charges made to that account. This is an agreement between you (and possibly your spouse) and Citicard that predates any agreement between you and your spouse or your marriage and the State of Georgia.

As long as your spouse is authorized to use the card, this is not technically fraud in the eyes of Citibank. Even with a decree/order from a court, you are the one responsible (not Citicard or the merchant) for seeking damages from the other party in a court of law, since the decree/order only applies to a contract between yourself and your spouse (the marriage) and not your contract with Citicard.

Having said that, even if your spouse is not officially named as an authorized user on your card, I can guarantee you there is a clause in your terms and conditions that says if you allow someone to use your card, you are responsible for those charges. Of course, there are different interpretations of allow, but based on how the merchant described her as a "regular customer," it's probably safe for me to assume that you allowed your spouse to carry and use your card. Of course, if you never allowed her to carry/use your card in the past, then there is probably a strong case for theft and fraud.

You could certainly explain the situation to Citicard (and I'm sure they would work with you), but you should know your legal standing here and who you would be screwing if Citicard took your side (the merchant). In any case, there are too many variables in play and you don't describe any of them very well for us to give you a proper answer. Consult your attorney.

Capital
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Postby Capital » Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:57 pm

Pete838 wrote:FYI, merchants are not required to check ID. Generally that is spelled out in the merchant agreement for the processing network (Visa, MC, AMEX, DISC). We discussed that here a few months back, but I can't seem to find it now.


The wording in the network-merchant agreements (at least for VISA/MC, to my knowledge) says that merchants may ask for ID, but if the customer refuses, the merchant must still process the transaction.

JohnB222
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Postby JohnB222 » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:53 pm

There are a couple different possibilities, and I will be echoing some of what has already been said - but here we go:

1) First and foremost, if she was an authorized user and this was a physical card with her name on it - there is no harm nor foul here, regardless of a divorce that does not null nor void any authorized user agreement with any credit card company. Authorized users are not limited to spouses and become cancelled upon divorce, there may be some situations where someone may want to keep ex-spouse as authorized user going forward...who knows.

2) If the physical credit card she used has your name on it, not yours, you could claim is as lost/stolen/fraud. Now, this is where it gets tricky - many credit companies require police reports to be filed in order to process the claim...because after all, it is a crime. This may muck up your divorce proceedings as you recently tried to put your spouse in jail.

3) Option number 3 is to settle in divorce court, many couples decide on joint finances and this would be a gray area to be settled be the courts. One may believe regardless of authorized user, or if card was in her name or not, she was authorized to use that card since she was your spouse.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is you are way too late on this...if you wanted to pursue this option you should have immediately, I believe you have no case on trying to report this as fraud. My advise would be to consult your divorce lawyer and inform him of these charges after her filing, complete with credit card statements, and ask for you to be compensated when the finances become split for the difference.
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