I was divorced in March 2013. We have a joint debt of $3000.00 and in the divorce decree he is responsible for the whole amount of this debt. Now I have the collections agency calling me for this debt and was told the divorce decree does not supersede the contract with them and i am still responsible for half. They are filing with lawyers to take us to court. So my question is if i do have to go to court for this and i bring the divorce decree where it shows he is responsible for the debt would a judge be able to exclude me from this and make it more legal (im not sure how to put it) to where i am no longer apart of this debt and he is the only one responsible.
3 Answers from Attorneys
The divorce decree does not bind the collection agency to come after him and not you. They consider that you are both still responsible for the debt. The divorce creates an obligation he has to you, so that if they garnish your wages or bank account, you have the right to file a contempt action against him if there is language in the divorce decree which states that he will indemnify and hold you harmless. Therefore, you cannot stop them, and filing a contempt against him may or may not get you reimbursed if he does not have the money.
The divorce decree means nothing as to the creditor. They can sue you for the whole amount. You can potentially sue him for contempt. But at this point, you're responsible, and you need to see a lawyer.
As noted by the other attorneys your divorce decree only concerns you and your spouse and the judge who entered it. It has no bearing on the credit card company or any junk debt buyer who now owns the debt. If your name is on the credit card as a co-borrower/co-applicant then there is joint and several liability for the debt. What this means is that the credit card can sue you, your ex-spouse or both of you for non-payment. The credit card is entitled to one recovery and they don't care if its from you or the ex-spouse. To the extent that you pay for the debt then you can sue your ex-spouse for recovery or you can take him back to court for contempt as noted.
If only a collection agency is calling, which one? Is this debt owned by the original creditor or has it been sold to a junk debt buyer? Do you have approximately 50% of the amount sought ($1500) to settle this debt? If not, when might you have it?
If a collection agency has this debt, it may be possible to settle for less than the $3000 owed. If you have the funds, then the more likely it is that they will settle. If you want to make payments, then they are going to want the full balance owed.
My suggestion would be to try to work out a reasonable resolution to protect your credit and then go after your ex-spouse. Before you pay a dime, get a settlement agreement outlining the terms. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like assistance in resolving this debt in a non-litigation non-bankruptcy context for a reasonable flat fee. However, if you are sued, then you may want to speak to a local GA litigation lawyer.