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Can I be sued by my ex-husband for paying debt collector instead of him personally?

Honolulu, HI |

In our divorce settlement, I defaulted because I lived in Hawaii at the time and could not attend the court hearing to defend myself. The judge ordered that the debt of a car be put in my name and I was ordered to pay this. This is the car I drove while we were together, he stole it from me on the last day we saw each other before the divorce. Even though I feel this debt should not be mine at all, there is nothing I can do but pay. Now my ex is saying he is filing for bankruptcy and if I pay him half he will file the debt of the car with his bankruptcy. I don't want to give him any money at all and would like to pay the car loan bank directly. Can he sue me for doing this? Am I in violation, do I HAVE to pay him directly? Divorce was in California. Thank you!

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Attorney answers 3


Be careful. If he files bankruptcy, he is protected from creditor actions by the automatic stay. But, if you act properly, you can avoid getting in trouble. First, he has no choice but to list all his debts and all his assets on the bankruptcy papers or get in trouble for failing to disclose. If the loan was originally in your name, his bankruptcy will not change that. If it was not in your name, you may be getting out of the obligation to continue paying. Settling like he proposed is an option, but not in secret or you can both get in trouble and lose money.

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If you are not in compliance with your settlement you have a problem - one that will not be affected by any bankruptcy filing.

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If there is a divorce decree that says you have to pay it, then you need to pay it unless you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or a modification to the agreement. You should contact a CA divorce lawyer to see if there is anything you may be able to do in terms of the Decree. If the Order says you have to pay the car loan and it cannot be modified then you may want to pay the bank directly but make sure to obtain proof of the payment.

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