How Can I Make Sure My Wife Does Not Go Into Debt Again? – Alex

“Dear Steve,

Hi, (thank you for your website)

I am planing to pay off my wife’s credit cards, she had $10 000 before we got married (10 years ago), and she now have $15 000 debts in credit cards.

I personaly don’t have any credit cards or debts (except for the house payment).

How can I be sure that she will no get in debts again after I pay off her $15 000 credit cards ?
She say that she would not use her credit cards anymore but we have 3 kids and I want to make sure that she will not go in debts again.

Is there any legal document that I could have her to sign saying that she would be totaly responsible for her debts in case she use credit cards again ?

We both have excellent credit records (she always pays her credits bills, but she only pay the minimum).

Thank you for your help (and sorry for my bad English)


Dear Alex,

It is interesting that people that are savers tend to marry people that are spenders. I guess it is one of those, opposites attract, things.

I don’t know what the circumstances were behind the additional $5,000 in debt she built up since the marriage but it is worrying.

There is no piece of paper she could sign. As long as she is an adult and is not mentally impaired or mentally disabled, she has the legal right to enter contracts for credit.

The chances are fairly high that she will try to re-debt after you pay off the cards. This is especially true based on what she was spending money on. Typically, people spend money to satisfy some underlying reason or need and the debt is just the byproduct of that situation.

With her permission, I would suggest that you both agree to pull a joint consolidated credit report every six months. The credit report will show you almost all credit activity for both of you as long as it is a joint report. It is possible that she could apply at some small or local merchant and that might not get reported but the chances of that happening are slim.

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After you pull the credit report, sit down with it together and go over it. This is an opportunity for you to look for any new accounts, but also to review the progress that you’ve made together and to positively reinforce her good work of keeping things under control.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

Steve Rhode

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