Am I responsible for a loan that my ex-husband took out after our divorce to pay for debt that was in the divorce settlement?

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Am I responsible for a loan that my ex-husband took out after our divorce to pay for debt that was in the divorce settlement?

Hello. I was legally divorced 4 years ago. At the time, my ex-husband had $20,000 in credit card debt. Although my name was not on most of it per state law (community property state), I had to take responsibility for half in the divorce settlement. At the time, him and I saw a bankruptcy attorney and were considering filing bankruptcy. After the divorce was finalized, he chose to get a personal loan from a friend and negotiate with the credit card companies to pay off the debt at about 50% of what was owed. At the time, we had agreed to file bankruptcy to relieve us of the debt as well as our home that had foreclosed. He chose to take this loan after our after our divorce on his own instead of filing bankruptcy. I am in real estate and my income has reduced dramatically. Over the last 4 years, he has been harassing me several times a month to give him money for this debt. I have told him verbally that if there comes a time that I have extra money I will give him what I can but with my business the way it is I have not been able to do that. Am I legally responsible to give him any money towards this debt? Is there any action he can take against me? In my opinion, the debt that was in the divorce settlement is now gone and he took out this loan on his own after our divorce. I do not shirk my financial responsibilities, however, this was his choice and the best option for us way bankruptcy.

Asked on August 6, 2012 under Family Law, California

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

This is a lesson in writing very settlement agreements (although hopefully it's your last).

You really need to read the divorce settlement closely.  Does it specify that each of you pay for 1/2 the credit card debt?  Is it more specific, such as assigning the debt from specific cards to each of you?  Did it establish who would make monthly payments on which cards in the meantime until they were paid off? 

I have a feeling that the divorce settlement just says: each party to pay half of credit card debt.  If that's what it says, then you need to pay your husband for half of what he paid off.  You need to arrange some sort of payment schedule.  If you don't pay him back, he could file an order to show cause--alleging that you are in comtempt of the court order (judgment) for failing to pay your half of the debt.  If he does that, I would argue that there was no payment schedule and that the judgment was ambiguous as to when the debt would be paid off--which the judge may or may not agree with.

Best of luck.


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