Are we able to handle a debt/garnishee prior to a summons?

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Are we able to handle a debt/garnishee prior to a summons?

My husband has been divorced from his ex for 5 years. He was served papers 8 months ago for a medical debt of his ex-wife. However, in the court order it says she is responsible for her medical bills. We contacted the debt collectors and told them this and they requested documentation. We tried calling the rehab center but there was no way of contacting. I encouraged him to write them but he never did and let it go. He owns his own business and received a garnishee order. Again, he didn’t do anything. Now he has is being requested to go to court. Is it possible to try to handle with the debt collectors before and have it

withdrawn? Also, how specific does a decree have to be regarding debt? Would it be enough to have him taken off the debt, even though it doesn’t specifically say the rehab center debt as her medical bill?

Asked on November 24, 2018 under Family Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The problem is, the court order regarding the divorce does not bind or affect the creditors: they were not part of the divorce, not part of the divorce case, and the outcome of the divorce is irrelevant to them or to any debt your husband owes. Your husband owes the creditors whatever he does owe, for any debts he guaranteed, signed for, or is otherwise responsible for: you can try to settle with them, but that will be voluntary (they have to agreew to the settlement) and they are not likely to just remove him from any debts he is otherwise liable for, since there is no legal basis for doing so. 
What he can do is sue his ex-wife to recover from her (assuming she has money or assets, or at least an income to garnish) any amounts which he has to pay or costs he incurs which he should not have--the divorce order IS binding on her, since she was part of the divorce case.


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