What to do if your spouse runs up debt in your name

What to do if your spouse runs up debt in your name

It can be shocking to learn that there are large debts in your name which you don’t know about, especially if they were accrued by your spouse.

In this guide, we’ll explain which debts you’re liable for and what options you have to seek informal and formal resolutions to help alleviate the debt. 

If you’re in immediate need of financial help, you might want to contact one of the organisations listed in our guide to debt management charities

When are you liable for a spouse’s debt?

It’s important to recognise the difference between debts that are held jointly between you and your spouse and ones which your spouse is solely responsible for. 

Separating these out will give you a clear idea of exactly how much debt you might be liable to pay and can help you identify which creditors have a legitimate claim against you.


Financial Abuse: How to Identify and Stop It

Financial abuse is a form of domestic abuse that can result in damage to your finances and credit, restrict your access to money and entrap you in an abusive relationship. Financial or economic abuse can be subtle or severe, and could apply to older adults being abused by caretakers, adult children being manipulated by parents and a variety of other scenarios. Here, we’ll focus on its effect on couples who share finances.


Fraudulent use of information

If anyone, including a spouse, family member, or intimate partner, uses your personal information to open up an account in your name without your permission, this could be considered identify theft. Some examples of personal information that someone might use are your Social Security number, credit card and banking account numbers, usernames, passwords, and patient records. Fraudulent uses of this information may include opening new credit accounts, taking out loans, stealing money from financial accounts or using available credit.1


Is Financial Infidelity a form of abuse?

Financial infidelity is viewed as a “premeditated crime” because hiding or lying about money takes active and deliberate planning. And many people view it as worse than cheating, physically, on a partner. In the case of abuse, this is a completely justifiable “crime.”



Claims of fraud may arise during the marriage or divorce if one spouse made a material misrepresentation about the value of assets or income. Fraud may be actual in which the individual had the intent to defraud the other spouse and the intention to deprive the other spouse from having fair use and enjoyment of the marital assets. Alternatively, fraud may be alleged to be constructive, meaning that there was not necessarily ill intent but that the spouse should have known that the actions would deceive the other spouse. 

Fraud claims are largely fact-specific and based on state laws. Some states include statutes regarding marital fraud during the divorce to include any transfers of marital assets that were not fair to the other party. 

Successfully bringing a fraud claim during the course of divorce or after the final settlement may impact a number of issues relevant to the divorce settlement. For example, it can impact the amount of spousal support that is awarded. Additionally, some courts may transfer the entire value of the asset that has been hidden or disposed of to the victimized spouse, rather than treat it as a 50/50 ownership under community property rules.

Criminal Charges

Rather than going through civil procedures to attempt to restore a person’s financial status after such a theft, victims may choose to pursue criminal charges against the spouse who wronged them. As part of the criminal process, the thieving spouse may be required to pay restitution to the victim.


Money and the Narcissist

Money stands for love in the narcissist’s emotional vocabulary. Having been deprived of love early on in his childhood, the narcissist constantly seeks for love substitutes. To him, money is THE love substitute. All the qualities of the Narcissist are manifest in his relationship with money, and in his attitude towards it. Due to his sense of entitlement – he feels that he is entitled to other people’s money. His grandiosity leads him to believe that he should have, or does have more money than he actually has. This leads to reckless spending, to pathological gambling, to substance abuse, or to compulsive shopping. Their magical thinking leads narcissists to irresponsible and short-sighted behavior, the results of which they believe themselves to be immune from. So, they descend to debt, they commit financial crimes, they hassle people, including their closest relatives. Their fantasies lead them to believe in financial (fabricated) “facts” (achievements) – incommensurate with their talents, qualifications, jobs, and resources. They pretend to be richer than they are, or capable of becoming rich, if they so resolve. They have a love-hate ambivalent relationship with money. They are mean, stingy, and calculating with their own money – and spendthrift with OPM (other people’s money). They live lavishly, well above their means. The often go bankrupt and ruin their businesses. Reality very rarely matches their grandiose fantasies. Nowhere is the grandiosity gap more evident than where money is involved.

Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels.com


Narcissist love of money especially someone else’s

Narcissists and those with the same toxic traits are naturally attracted to empatheticpeople with low or no boundaries. These nontoxic individuals are the same ones that rely on internal motivators to reach their goals. Money may be important to them, but it is not the end-all. These people place emphasis on personal fulfillment, family, honesty, and fairness… and unfortunately find themselves in relationships with narcissists.


The Three Poisons and Their Antidotes

The three poisons are the root of all suffering. Every bit of suffering can somehow be broken down to one or more of these: greed, anger, and ignorance. Each of these poisons has an antidote.

Poison Antidote
Greed Generosity
Anger Compassion
Ignorance Wisdom

To reduce suffering in your life, you must apply as much of the three antidotes, as you can as often as you can. It may be easy to entertain the thought that it is the greed, anger, and ignorance of others that are causing your suffering, and that may be true in some cases. But you cannot control that. The only thing you can control is you. Worrying about that which you cannot control will only cause more suffering, so let’s get back to you. Continue reading “The Three Poisons and Their Antidotes”


  •  known as consciousness, the mind is the factor that knows, perceives, experiences. According to Buddhist philosophy, the true nature of the mind is clear and pristine, pure experience.1
  • Object – Anything that is perceived by the mind. An object can be something tangible, like a sight, sound, touch, taste, or any other physical experience, or it can be mental. Mental objects can be things like ideas, imaginings, feelings, memories, and other thoughts.4
  • Greed – Attachment of the mind onto an object of desire, which turns into clinging. It is a state of wanting and believing that lasting happiness will be obtained by acquiring the object of desire.
  • Hatred /aversion – Wanting to be removed or separated from the object. There is resistance to the object, and this resistance takes the form of the desire to destroy the object (anger) or run from it (fear). Hatred ranges from slight aversion to destructive rage.4
  • Delusion/ignorance – False beliefs and wrong views. A persistent and insidious false view is the belief in a lasting, separate, unchanging self … the concept of “I,” “me” or “mine” being separate and independent from others. Although this view abounds, it is considered false and unskillful.

The Personalities

The Greed Type

This is the person or state of mind that wants things. They say yes to things because they imagine how well it will fulfill their desires. They tend to exaggerate the benefits of obtaining their object of desire. Greed personalities want to enjoy themselves. If they are enjoying themselves, they will consider how to make their experience even better. Clearly, they will be inclined towards excesses. The greed-dominated mind tends to glaze over details, thinking only of the benefits of securing the object, and neglecting the potential pitfalls, obstacles, and negative consequences. They can do very well in business because they imagine all the benefits of their plans and courses of action, and so they proceed, expecting good results.

There are endless things to want, so it is easy to move from desire to desire with temporary satisfactions and disappointments in between. This condition is not easily remedied, because there is an enjoyment – albeit temporary – in obtaining the object of desire. In its more obvious and developed forms, however, greed will incite distrust, discomfort, and possibly disgust from others, which clarifies the point that the state is not wholesome. If a greed type is thwarted from obtaining the object of their desire, anger can quickly ensue.

The Hate Type

Hatred, or aversion, is the flip side of greed; while the greed type attempts to pull things in, the hate type is always trying to keep things out. The person whose first response is “No” to any request or suggestion, is a hate type. Hate types are averse to change, to being disturbed, and they expect the worst. The focus, when this poison dominates, tends to be narrow and precise. People tend to know exactly what it is that disturbs them or what they hate, and can focus in with intense concentration. Because they foresee and expect negative outcomes, hate types tend towards pessimism and cynicism.

They are realists, however, because things in fact tend to not go the way they are planned; every silver lining has its cloud, and there are negative consequences to almost every action. In group-planning situations, a hate type will quickly point out all the problems, all the potential difficulties, and all the ways a plan might not work. If left solely up to a hate type, new projects would likely not be started, but there would still be something wrong with the way things are.

The Confused Type

The confused type does not know what course of action to take; they are perpetually in a state of indecision. They may appear lost or spacey, and they are often unsure of what they really want. The confusion is a defense against being truly committed or present, and also against self-responsibility and the uncertainty borne of taking action based on ignorance. They don’t know which stand to take, and therefore refuse to take one. In group situations, the confused type will wait for others to offer suggestions and opinions before offering their own. This is because their remarks are actually based on what other people think and say. Clearly, the confused personality is easily swayed by popular opinion. There are confused-hate types who wait for advice or opinions from those around and then proceed in the opposite direction. There are also confused-greed types, who wait for the same, but go along with the group. At the center of this state is the “I” concept – “I don’t know,” “I don’t know what to think,” “I don’t know what to do”… but it is still all about the “I.”

Never Fulfilling

In reality, these poisons are modes of reacting to the world, in an attempt to secure happiness. The reason these methods cannot secure happiness is that they are rooted in ignorance. Nobody is completely or solely a greed type, hate type, or confused type.

All of us can understand these 3 poisons, because being human, we experience them all, often in combination and on a regular basis. Most of us will have a dominant mode, the poison we prefer when we are out of options or feel threatened, and we will try out the other poisons to see how well they fulfill our needs. Because these states will never fulfill us, but only keep us locked in suffering, it is important that we see these roots in ourselves, understand them, and know how to take corrective measures. Continue reading “THE 3 POISONS: GREED, HATRED, AND CONFUSION”

The Unwholesome Roots of Our Unease

“For all evil things, and all evil destiny, are really rooted in greed, hate and ignorance; and of these three things ignorance or delusion (moha, avijja) is the chief root and the primary cause of all evil and misery in the world. If there is no more ignorance, there will be no more greed and hatred, no more rebirth, no more suffering.” Continue reading “The Unwholesome Roots of Our Unease”