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Credit Card Debt - Responsible for Joint Account with Ex-wife?

Discussion in 'Debt and Bankruptcy Law Forum' started by MissFortune, 22 May 2014.

  1. MissFortune

    MissFortune Member

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    My new partner has disclosed that when he and his wife split there was a credit card debt of $6000 in joint names. This was 5 years ago. He told me "it is still just sitting there". What is the likelihood that this debt is now at some obscene amount? Who is responsible for it if the card was in joint names? How can I find out more about it as he isn't willing to talk about it?
     
  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi MissFortune,
    Just a few thoughts knowing that there's a few other members with knowledge of debt and family law.
    1. A credit card debt that was $6,000 5 years ago is now likely to be ~$15,000+ (assuming ~20% credit card interest rate and no payments).
    2. Assuming that your partner and his ex-wife separated, it may be worth asking about whether there was an agreement between them in relation to the credit card debt. For further information, please see the Family Law Court's website section on "Property and money after separation".
    3. If the debt has been ignored by both parties and is still mounting in joint names, both parties are still generally liable for the debt. Your partner should consider contacting the credit card provider at his earliest opportunity to understand any debt owing and make arrangements for payment of the debt.
     
  3. MissFortune

    MissFortune Member

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    Thanks John. It's a worry how anyone can let that happen. He is now 41, no car, no house, owes his ex maintenance and is working on commission only (why would anyone hook up with this man... I can hear you thinking). How would we go about tapping into his superannuation and file for severe financial hardship if he is from New Zealand? Pre-requisites say he has had to be on Centrelink for past 26 weeks, but doesn't even qualify for Centrelink as he has been in Australia for 10 years. Has to be a way to tap into some money to consolidate his debts?
     
  4. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi MissFortune,
    Yes - Financial/money management should be its own school subject!

    Any early release of superannuation is generally at the discretion of the superannuation fund. That said, as you appear to be aware, being in receipt of Centrelink benefits for 26 weeks is generally a requirement for any early release of superannuation because of severe financial hardship.
    For further information, please see:
    http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/early-release-of-superannuation
    http://www.australiansuper.com/tool...-are-the-financial-hardship-requirements.aspx

    Given the further information provided, you should consider encouraging your partner to seek free, independent and confidential financial counselling services via https://www.afsa.gov.au/debtors/financial-counsellors at his earliest opportunity.

    Please keep us updated with your progress. All the best!
     
  5. MissFortune

    MissFortune Member

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    So... there is no way of accessing his super then?
     
  6. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi MissFortune,
    Your partner should contact his superannuation fund directly for confirmation. That said, because of the "26 week Centrelink requirement" to obtain early release of superannuation for severe financial hardship, it appears unlikely.
     
  7. MissFortune

    MissFortune Member

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    Well... thank you for your advice. All the best John.
     

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