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How can I get my ex husband to pay his bills?

Kenosha, WI |

He was ordered to pay $2000 which includes what he owes me and his share of bills. He spent 60 days in jail for contempt and was released for time served. How can I force him to pay these bills?

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Attorney answers 3


unfortunantely there really isnt a way to force him to do anything. sounds like if he has already spent 60 days in jail over this and still hasn't paid he really doesnt care. You can file another contempt action and see if that gets him to pay.


If the debts are not being paid because he is defaulting be careful. You may get sued.

The divorce agreement, decree or judgment supposedly settled the rights and obligations between you and the former spouse. However, it does not change the obligations each of you had with third parties who were not in Court when you got the divorce.

The ex-spouse may refuse to make payments to credit card companies, car financing companies, mortgage companies, etc. Your ex may even file for Bankruptcy.

Depending on the law in your State you may have an action against the ex-spouse, and you may even be able to sue the ex-spouse if they file for Bankruptcy and have their obligation to you declared “non-dischargeable”.

Unfortunately the divorce or the ex’s Bankruptcy does not relieve you of any obligations you had to these third parties.

See a lawyer right away!

Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.


First of all, the problem you're having is a common one arising after the divorce. Unfortunately, there is no simple fix to the problem.

That said, Is he working and is he usually employed? If he is regularly employed, you could pay the debts that he was ordered to pay so that you avoid getting sued by those creditors and to avoid the negative reporting of those accounts to your credit report each month. Once you pay those debts, if they were debts that he was obligated to pay in the divorce decree/MSA, then you can sue him for compensation of the bills you paid on his behalf. Once you obtain a judgment against him, you can begin garnishing his wages to force him to "repay" the debts he was supposed to pay.

I realize that no one recently divorced has piles of cash sitting around that they don't know what to do with, so it may not realistically be an option to pay his debts and sue him for what you had to pay on his behalf. Many divorced spouses facing financial problems that are really oustide of their control end up choosing to file a bankruptcy case of their own instead of dealing with the ongoing damage of the "financial marriage," which as you know, lasts beyond the divorce.

If you choose to go with the first option above, then speak to a collection law attorney before you pay any debts you believe to be your ex husband's responsibility to make sure you have a legal claim against your ex for your payment of the debts you believe he was ordered to pay in the divorce decree.

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