Separation and divorce
Joint credit cards: What are your rights if you break up?
A joint credit card can make it easier for couples to manage their finances together. If there’s a breakup, however, it’s important to find out who's responsible for the existing or future balance and, if necessary, what steps need to be taken to terminate the relevant obligations.
Who is responsible for the credit card balance if you break up?
The answer to this question depends on the contract you signed with the financial institution that issued your credit card (“issuer”).
Two scenarios are possible:
- You and your ex are “co-borrowers”. It means that you and your ex applied for a credit card together. In this scenario, you’re both responsible to the issuer for the credit card balance, whether the purchases were made before the separation or after. Therefore, if one of you doesn’t pay his or her share, the other is required to pay the full balance, regardless of who made the purchases.
- One of you is the “primary cardholder” and the other is the “authorized user”. In this scenario, the primary cardholder is responsible for paying for all purchases made with the card, even if he or she has never used the card and the authorized user is the one who made the purchases.
Not sure? Check your contract or call the financial institution that issued your credit card.
How to put an end to your responsibility for future credit card purchases?
If you’re “co-borrowers”
If you break up, you can send a written notification to the financial institution that issued the joint credit card informing them that you’ll no longer be using the credit card and that you no longer wish to be solidarily liable for your ex’s use of the card.
You must also inform your ex by registered mail or email, and provide proof of this notification to the credit card issuer.
From that point on, your ex alone will be liable for future purchases made with the card, but you will both remain liable for purchases made before that point. Any future payments you make to your financial institution will be used only to repay debts incurred before you sent the notification.
If you’re the “primary cardholder”
You can remove your ex from the list of authorized users of your credit card by contacting the financial institution that issued it. Depending on your financial institution, you can make this change online, over the phone, or in person at a branch.
How to claim unjustly paid amounts from your ex?
If your ex refuses to pay his or her share and you’re forced to pay the issuer the full credit card balance, you can apply to the court to claim these unjustly paid amounts from your ex.
If you’re married, you can add this claim to your application for divorce.
If you’re de facto partners, you can claim it in an application at the same time as your other claims concerning your separation. If it’s your only application, you need to prepare an “Originating Application” to file at the courthouse. The court you need to apply to depends on the amount claimed. To help you determine the court, visit a legal clinic or speak with a lawyer or a notary.
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The information presented on this page is not a legal opinion or legal advice. This page explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. To obtain a legal opinion or legal advice on your personal situation, consult a legal professional.
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