My Ex Has To Pay! Bankruptcy Attorney Michael Primus says “A divorce decree does not remove contractual responsibility.” Often a divorce decree will require one spouse, let’s say the (former) husband, to repay credit cards taken in both names jointly. What happens if he fails to pay? The account will go to collections and both of them will be pressured to pay the bill. Typically, the (former) wife assumes the divorce decree will protect her credit which is not the case. Legally, the contract was between the credit card company and both of them. The fact they are now divorced does not change the contract with the credit card company.
With a joint account, the former spouse’s share equal responsibility for the debt. The failure to pay could (and likely would) be reported to the credit bureaus thereby damaging the credit of both. The best option may be to pay the debt in full and go back to court to enforce the divorce decree. Doing so will minimize credit report damage. Often paying the debt is not possible, in that case a person should consider bankruptcy. This is a general discussion of the law and should not be relied upon. Any person considering bankruptcy should consult a lawyer for a detailed discussion of his or her rights and options.
At the Law Office of Michael Primus, we have helped hundreds of clients get out of debt, stop wage garnishments, and start fresh through bankruptcy. If you live in Contra Costa County and have debt problems, contact us for a free in-office consultation. We have offices in Walnut Creek, Antioch and Hercules.