What to do if I just received a motion for contempt for a debt that was my responsibility but still had my ex-husband’s name on it since I failed to have it removed?

No where in our divorce papers did it stipulate that I was to remove his name. I thought he would do this since his name was on the credit line so he received statements. He could have removed his name but failed to do so. Now his attorney has filed for contempt because I failed to take his name off. He paid the debt and I am willing to sign a note that I will pay him back when I sell my home. What do I need to do? I have no money, I work full-time and can barely pay my bills. I am ready to file bankruptcy.

Asked on July 28, 2015 under Family Law, Arizona

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

First... get the bankruptcy going and make sure you include this obligation.  Send a copy of the bankruptcy petition to your husband's attorney.  This will help stay any collection activity until you can get back on your feet financially. 

The bankruptcy can also be a defense to the enforcment action because it will be evidence of your inability to pay... meaning that you didn't intentionally fail to comply with the court order. 

Even though you are representing yourself, you can make valid arguments to the judge.  Basically you need to explain to the judge that "contempt is not appropriate at this time because the divorce decree only spelled out who was to pay the debt-- but it did not spell out whose name would be on it and how long you had to pay on the account.

For additional assistance, contact your local clerk and see what legal clinics are available in your area.  If there are clinics available, you can take your decree to an attorney to see, what, if any, additionally remedies might be available to you.


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