CC lenders rarely pursue collection from a non-signer. The only exceptions might possibly be if the debt was incurred for the common necessaries of life for the non-signing spouse. These include, medical care, shelter, clothing, and food. You could be sued for non-payment of the debt, and if neglected, the court could grant a default judgment against you. If you have an interest in real estate along with your ex, a judgment lien can be recorded against that property. A BK will discharge personal obligation on the debt, but a judgment lien must be affirmatively avoided if it impairs your homestead exemption. If you don't live in the property, you can't claim a homestead exemption. If title to the property is held jointly with your ex, you could have an issue in your BK. Best advice: don't neglect a summons from the CC creditor. Make sure you file your BK before any judgment is rendered or before any judgment lien gets recorded. BTW. a CC lender whose debt goes from $650 to $22K may take a hard look at whether or not they file an objection to the discharge of their debt pursuant to 11 USC §523. If the debt was incurred without any intention of repayment, it may be possible for them to try and prevent your getting a discharge of the $22K debt. Consult a good BK lawyer in your area and don't go it alone.
This is a family law/community property question. While the finer points of community property law vary some from one state to another among those that have adopted it, one common feature is joint and several liability for all debt incurred during the pendency of a marriage. In my state by case law the concept of separate debt (incurred without the knowledge or consent of the other party and without benefit to the other or community) has been created. In the absence of such law, any creditor can indeed pursue the marital partner, even where their name was not on the account. Creditors are very swift to remind parties that creditors are not bound by any agreement of the parties. Moreover, any attorney will build into a marital agreement mutual indemnification, and that obligation is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Be aware that the intersection of community property law and bankruptcy is full of landmines for the unwary, and the potential for costly unwelcome consequences is ever present. Finding an attorney with deep community property law experience and familiarity with bankruptcy make take some effort, but is what you need.
Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
Debt incurred after the date of separation is not community debt. Interestingly, if her name were on the account, they could go after her for the full amount of the debt ... because a state's community property law is not binding on a creditor. But, since her name was never on the account, they will not go after her.
The Homestead law protects a person from having their home sold in order to pay any court judgment. The first thing that would have to happen is that the creditor would need to name your ex in a lawsuit to collect this debt. Only if the creditor won this lawsuit would your ex's property be in jeopardy, and only to the extent that the creditor could place a lien on the property which would have to be paid should she sell or refinance the home. Hope this perspective helps!
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