My ex husband defaulted on credit card but bank is pursuing me, what should I do? 13 Answers as of July 06, 2011

My first husband had a business and owed federal income taxes while we were still married. I had a credit card with no balance on it and a $20K limit on it in my name. We used this credit card to pay his income taxes for his business. He paid the payments on this card out of his business account, and for reasons we were divorced a few years later. In our divorce decree the judge ordered him to be responsible for that credit card debt, and for me to be held harmless. He has defaulted on this debt and now the bank is suing me for this debt plus interest which amounts to over $ 21K. I have gotten the summons and complaint and have answered the compliant with a copy of our divorce decree that states where the judge ordered him to pay this debt, but the bank is still pursuing this suit. What can or should I do?  

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Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
You need to sue him. The dissolution of marriage judgement will not help you in the case with the lender.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/6/2011
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
This is a common misconception people have. The divorce court order only affects the parties to the divorce. It does not and cannot affect third parties. The requirement that he pay his debt and hold you harmless is an obligation that HE owes to YOU. It does not in any way, shape or form, alter your liability on any debts you each owe, such as to credit cards. If he failed to honor his divorce agreement, then he is liable to you for the amount he didn't pay. You can sue him (presumably in divorce court) for that amount. But that isn't going to fix what you owe to your creditors. You will either have to negotiate with them for repayment, or consider filing a bankruptcy case yourself.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/30/2011
CONSUMER PROTECTION ASSISTANCE COALITION, INC. (DE).
CONSUMER PROTECTION ASSISTANCE COALITION, INC. (DE). | Gary Lee Lane
if you were not part of the debt just show them the divorce papers, but if you were, you are on the hook.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/29/2011
Koch Laron Law
Koch Laron Law | Phillip Koch
The problem you run into, is that the credit card company was not part of your divorce. They had no opportunity to be heard. Thus, when the judge says that your ex husband is responsible, that means the judge is ordering him to pay it and/or reimburse you if you pay it or he will be in violation of judges order......HOWEVER, the judge did not rule that the credit card company cannot seek to get reimbursed from you for the card because they were not part of the action. Basically, your contract with the credit card company is a separate agreement that they can enforce against you. The judge is only telling your ex that if this happens he is liable to you to pay you for it. You have two choices - file an OSC with family court and get your ex back in front of the judge, seeking a payment from him to you, paycheck withholding etc... and/or file a bankruptcy to wipe out the debt. My firm does family law and bankruptcy and I will be happy to provide a free and more detailed consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/28/2011
Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
I believe you'll have to bring it to bankruptcy court to have him pay. I'm not sure creditors will recognize a divorce decree, but you've done well so far. Please see a bankruptcy lawyer to be sure your bases are all covered.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 6/28/2011
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger | Michael J. Berger
    You are still liable for this debt. The divorce decree does not change the fact that the bank is still entitled to collect the debt from you. You can settle with the bank, let the bank take a judgment against you, or file bankruptcy, as is best for you. I will need to know more about your assets, debts, income and expenses to advise you in that regard. I assume that the bank is also suing your ex-husband. You should ask him to pay the debt. You could try to help the bank collect from your ex-husband by telling the bank's attorney about your ex-husband's assets and income. Your husband is still liable to you for any payment that you must make on the debt. After you pay the bank, you may seek reimbursement from him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Burnham & Associates
    Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
    You will not be able to stop the Bank's action. What you can do is file a third party complaint bringing your ex-husband into the lawsuit as a responsible party. You have a cause of action against your husband for him breaching your divorce decree, the Bank does not have to consider your divorce.decree at all.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    The agreement between you and your former husband as to who was responsible for the debt did not affect the right of the creditor to pursue who was legally responsible. as between you and the lender, you are still liable. You should consult with a family law attorney about enforcing the terms of the divorce decree as your former spouse is in violation of that agreement.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    A divorce decree can be enforced by the family law court. Creditors are not bound by the divorce court order and can pursue collection.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Law Offices of Steven A. Wolvek
    Law Offices of Steven A. Wolvek | Steven A. Wolvek
    Creditors are not bound by a family law judgment. You can go back into family law court and request relief but I would also answer the complaint or negotiate a settlement unless you would have filed bankruptcy because of that debt and other obligations.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    You filed (unfortunately) a frivolous answer. That could result in additional attorneys fees being awarded against you. When you get sued, you need to get a lawyer and you would have found out exactly why NOT to do what you did. The divorce (as I am sure your lawyer at the time told you - you did use one I hope?) did NOT remove you from the debt. It gave you rights to sue him if the bank sued you. So you owe the money. What can you do? Stop making the case worse and see a lawyer immediately. You HAVE to get one. Given the size of the debt, unless you have enough on hand to settle the case, you may need to file bankruptcy. You also may be able to sue your ex.. But don't keep filing things like you did. That not only did not help, but you probably will end up owing more because of your "defense."
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    Your divorce decree binds you and your ex-husband. It does not bind your creditors. They will continue to look to you for payment. It is your responsibility to enforce the divorce orders and make sure your ex-husband pays as he was ordered to. If he does not do so, you need to file a motion for contempt of court with the divorce court and ask the judge to force him to take care of the debt and repay you for any amounts you are forced to pay in the lawsuit.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 6/28/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    You can BK against that debt or sue your ex for breach of contract (the marriage settlement agreement).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/28/2011
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