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Wisconsin’s Marital Property Law

The Credit Application

When a person applies for credit, a creditor may inquire into the applicant’s marital status (Adobe PDF Document  Sec. 766.56(2)(d), Wis. Stats. (PDF: external link)), and may request any information concerning the applicant’s spouse that may be requested about the applicant in accordance with sec. 202.5(c)(2) of federal Regulation B.

All credit applications, both open and closed end, governed by the Wisconsin Consumer Act must include a "marital agreement notice" pursuant to Adobe PDF Document  Sec. 766.56(2)(b), Wis. Stats (PDF: external link). This does not apply to applications for renewals, extensions or modifications or the use of an open-end credit transaction.

The content of the notice must state that:

No provision of a marital property agreement {including a Statutory Individual Property Classification Agreement pursuant to Sec.766.587, Wis. Stats.}, a unilateral statement under s. 766.59 or a court decree under s. 766.70 adversely affects the interest of the creditor unless the creditor, prior to the time the credit is granted, is furnished a copy of the agreement, statement or decree or has actual knowledge of the adverse provision when the obligation to the creditor is incurred.

This applies to written applications beginning January 1, 1986, as well as applications received prior to January 1, 1986, where credit is extended in 1986. Recording a marital property agreement or a unilateral statement under Adobe PDF Document  Sec. 766.59, Wis. Stats. (PDF: external link) does not put a creditor on notice except as it may affect notice of an interest in real property. Failure to include the notice can result in a penalty of $25 for each applicant spouse unless the failure was unintentional and resulted from a bona fide error. However, in order to establish a bona fide error, the creditor must show that it had adopted a set of procedures that, if followed, would have avoided the error.