What will happen when my ex files for chapter 7 bankruptcy? 16 Answers as of May 19, 2011

My ex has filed chapter 7 bankruptcy on the accounts she was ordered to take over in our divorce decree. I am co-signer/joint owner on all of them. None of the financial institutions are honoring the divorce decree stating she is liable. I am in the military, single parent, and not receiving child support. I can't take over this debt, but filing chapter 7 would hurt my security clearance. Reccomended course of action? if I have to file, I will- but obviously would like to avoid it.

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Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
If bankruptcy is not an option, your best remedy may be to try to get the divorce court to compel your ex to satisfy the obligation under the decree through a contempt proceeding.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 5/19/2011
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
Your divorce decree does not affect your creditors. People often have that misconception for some reason. The decree is a contract between you and your ex-spouse. You are liable on all of those debts regardless of whether your ex files bankruptcy or not. The good news is, the debt your wife owes you is not dischargeable in her Chapter 7 case. The bad news is, you may have a tough time collecting from her to pay your creditors, but that is something you can litigate in the family law court. As far as you having to file bankruptcy, that really depends on a multitude of factors, including whether your wife lives up to her obligations under the family law court's support/equalization order. You can also negotiate with the creditors and take the same steps anyone takes when in that position. You may want to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to see what options you might have should you need to pull the trigger and file.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/18/2011
Law Office of Harry L Styron
Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
Obligations which are the subject of a dissolution judgement are not dischargeable as to the other spouse. So, you should go back to the family court with a motion to require her to reimburse you for whatever you pay to satisfy the debts she is not paying, and, assuming she has a job, garnish her wages to reimburse you. You also imply that you have a child and she is not paying child support. If in California you should contact your County Department of Child Support Services (or whatever it is called in whatever state you are in) and have them assist you in getting a child support order and enforcing it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/18/2011
The Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm
The Northwest Debt Relief Law Firm | Thomas A McAvity
The financial institutions are not obligated to honor the dissolution decree. Your only recourse is to sue your former spouse for contribution if you are forced to turn over funds to these creditors. I am no expert in family law, but it seems to me that you might be able to reopen the dissolution as well. Ultimately, it sounds like even if you were to prevail against your former spouse, you would have a pretty difficult time collecting from her. I hate to say it, but I don't think you are going to have any options other than to file yourself.
Answer Applies to: Oregon
Replied: 5/18/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
A lot will depend on what your Divorce Decree stated. For example, if the debt assigned to your ex was a substitute for alimony or property division, you may have a cause of action against your ex, including possibly preventing her from discharging some of the debt. Unfortunately, credit card companies will not honor the Divorce Decree and the Divorce Decree is only enforceable against your ex. You should speak with a Bankruptcy Attorney to determine what your options are, bring your Divorce Decree with you.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 5/18/2011
    Law Office of Larry Webb
    Law Office of Larry Webb | Larry Webb
    If your question is bankruptcy and you security clearance, that will not be a problem. Speak with your JAG officer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/18/2011
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger | Michael J. Berger
    If your ex files for bankruptcy, she will most likely receive a discharge of her obligation to pay the financial institutions, but you, as her cosigner, will remain liable to pay them. You may have a dischargeability of debt clam that you could bring against your ex in her bankruptcy case under 11 USC Section 523 (a) (15), but you will remain obligated to the financial institutions if they are not paid by your wife. You have a legal right to file bankruptcy and, if you are not able to pay the debts otherwise, it may be your best choice. I suggest that you talk with someone in the military about the security clearance issue and see if it is truly a problem.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/18/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    First, filing should not cause a problem with your security clearance. Second, the creditors do not have to honor the divorce decree. Third, the divorce decree may provide that you can go after him if he does not pay. That option might be worthless as you would have to chase him to get the money. If you do file, make sure you list as an asset his obligation to pay these debts. The trustee may go after him.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/18/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed | Robert Weed
    Filing Chapter 7 on these facts will have very litter impact on your security clearance. Most people are surprised by this but the divorce decree does not control what the creditors do. It only controls the parties to the divorce. You just found that out. You have the right to fight your ex in both the bankruptcy court and the divorce court; you can make her pay or at least make her suffer. Does that do any good? You say you are not getting any child support; did you think she would be able to pay these debts when you got divorced? Can she?
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 5/18/2011
    Diefer Law Group, P.C.
    Diefer Law Group, P.C. | Abel Fernandez
    There is not much you can do but take her back to court and see if the family law court will award you support or order her to pay you in consideration of the debt you will now owe.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    When your ex wife files for chapter 7 bankruptcy your family court order still pertains to both of you. Also, a divorce order that gives her the debts does not relieve you of the debts if she defaults, but neither is she relieved of her obligation to pay the debts in spite of the bankruptcy. The financial institutions are allowed to collect against you in spite of the divorce order; your remedy is enforcement in the family law court. You are incorrect about the effect of you filing chapter 7 insofar as your employment in the military. Under Section 525 of the bankruptcy code it is illegal to discriminate in public or private employment based on filing a bankruptcy. This is federal law, in other words. There are complications in your question so that you should seek the advice of an attorney who is a certified specialist in bankruptcy law. Consult the State Bar for a listing of those attorneys in your areas.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    Law Office of Jackie Robert Geller
    Law Office of Jackie Robert Geller | Jackie Robert Geller
    You can file a complaint in bankruptcy court to enforce your ex's order to pay the debts. But you only have 60 after her first meeting of creditors to do that. So get a competent attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC
    Symmes Law Group, PLLC | Richard James Symmes
    If you were on joint accounts with your ex-wife then the creditors may come after you for the balance on the accounts. You may want to consult a family law attorney to confirm your liability, but in order to discharge the debt you will have to file bankruptcy. Another option could be debt settlement if you have funds available to settle the debts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    Law Offices of Alexzander C. J. Adams, P.C.
    Law Offices of Alexzander C. J. Adams, P.C. | Alexzander Adams
    You can file an indemnification (or possible a contempt) action against your ex-wife. However, if she has nothing to get, even though you would win, she will not be able to pay the creditors she was ordered to pay in the divorce. There may be work out solutions available. I would recommend speaking to an attorney knowledgeable in both bankruptcy and debt settlement options.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    Unfortunately, you are not left with many options. The credit companies have no obligation to follow a divorce decree and if she files for bankruptcy, then you alone will be responsible for that debt. If you are in my area and decide that you wish to file for bankruptcy, please contact me for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    If she is obligated to pay the debts in a divorce decree, you can bring an Adversary Proceeding in bankruptcy to keep the debts from being discharged and keep her liable for them. You would likely need the assistance of any attorney. Bankruptcy does not necessarily affect a security clearance. It is the outstanding past due debt that does. Many times, especially when the debt is of the kind you have, bankruptcy will allow you to keep a security clearance.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/17/2011
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