I have been divorced for 5 months. He took on $16 of the $23,000 in credit card debt. Some of the credit cards had both of our names on them. Now he's unemployed and won't be able to pay the debts. I don't want my credit to suffer. What can I do?
If you do not pay the debt your credit will suffer.
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!
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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.
I wanted to follow up to confirm that Kentucky law does give you rights against your ex-spouse for non-payment if the divorce decree is worded correctly. A bankruptcy or a family law attorney will be able to tell you if this applies to you for sure.
Whatever you do, be proactive and don't let the situation become a crisis before getting a consultation with an attorney. Many problems can be dealt with more effectively if they are dealt with early. Your credit probably cannot be saved entirely, but hopefully it can be "managed". Good luck!
Whether or not bankruptcy filers can keep any individual piece of property depends on many factors, including how much property is owned and what exemptions are available to cover the property.
Volumes are available on the subject, so here's a summary in response to your general question. In 2005 Congress amended the bankruptcy laws, imposing a "means test". If your household's average monthly income over the last 6 calendar months is less than the census bureau's statistics for current monthly income in your state, then you qualify for a chapter 7 discharge. If not, then you need to look at the means test form, deduct certain IRS allowances for living expenses and some of your actual living expenses to determine whether you pass the means test, qualifying you for a chapter 7. If you do not pass, then you would likely qualify for a chapter 13, which requires that you pay a certain percentage of your debts in a "plan" over the next three to five years.
Even though bankruptcy law is federal, the next question is whether all of your assets, including any equity value in your real estate, car(s) or other property is protected by exemptions available under your state law.
Bankruptcy requires review of your entire financial situation including all debts, income and assets. I highly recommend that you retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure.
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