Missouri  |  Credit and Debt Law

Legal Question

Asked on: 4/05/13, 12:11 pm

I was served with a summons last week in reference to AC Breach of Contract. This is from an unsecured credit card debt. The case also identifies my Ex-wife as a defendent. The issue is that the CC debt is not from me. The CC was a joint CC held in both my ex-wife and myself. When we were divorced I paid off the debt and torn up my card. I informed the CC company that we were divorced however it seems they kept on issuing new cards out. Thiis new amount is something that I am not aware of and do not have the funds to pay it off.

To add to the problem, they are unable to summons her, because they can not locate her. Does she have to be served and present and the hearing. I plan on being there, but don't want to be stock holding the bad end of the stick here.

1 Answer

Answered on: 4/05/13, 4:12 pm by Anthony Smith

I wish I could tell you that this is a rare case where a phone call will absolve you of all liability. But, your is a common situation that can be difficult to resolve. As you may know by now, the credit card agreement you made when you got the cards, is not stopped by your divorce decree. You may have an action against your ex, if the division of debt said that she was to get the debt from this card, or to terminate the contract. Absent that, you now look to what your notification of divorce was. Hopefully, you informed them that you were cancelling the account when you paid off the balance, that you have kept a copy of that cancellation letter. If you have that letter, it may work to defend you from the pending case. Your divorce attorney should have dealt with separating your debts and explained how to terminate the ongoing joint obligations. Contact them. Perhaps your file contains a copy of the letter.

If you do not have a copy of your cancellation letter (phone call may not be effective to relieve you of continued liability) you may be stuck with your original card agreement. Sadly people pay down the account to zero, and the account stays open. The Card company issues new cards to replace expired ones. Your original card agreement may still be in effect, and thus you remain obligated for debts incurred on the account by your co-applicant.

You did not indicate who was suing you. Many older credit card accounts are purchased by third parties, who fail to get all the paperwork. This is sometimes referred to as Zombie debt. If you are being sued by someone other than the bank that issued the credit card, you should try to defend. If they cannot produce the paperwork that ties you to the account, they should not prevail at trial. They may drag the case out for months. But, if your attorney handles Discovery right, a zombie debt purchaser will almost always dismiss the case

before trial.

There is one very important timely matter. you need to pay attention to dates. Do not fail to appear and deny the allegations or fail to file and serve your Answer. If you fail to do these simple yet important acts, you will probably have a judgment entered against you in default. Since they have you on the hook, they will stop pursuing your ex. With a Default judgment, they can garnish your wages and bank accounts. If they have the judgment so entered, it can act as a lien on your house or other real estate.

I strongly suggest that you consult directly with a civil practice attorney in your area. Try to find one with Fair Debt Collection litigation experience. Many offer a free or low cost initial consultation. Take your; Summons, Petition, Divorce Decree, the aforementioned cancellation letter, and any other relevant documents you have, and find out your options. Do this before the Answer docket date listed on the Summons. You were wise to seek general information here. Now, be smart and get advice specific to the facts of your case.

Good luck

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