Tips & advice on getting your finances back on track.
My husband and I divorced two years ago. When we set up the divorce decree it was established that he would pay the credit card debt, which was around $25,000. The debt was in both of our names. I just received a call from a collection agency stating that one of the credit cards has not been paid in 4 months. The bill collector told me that I was responsible for the debt and that they could not reach my ex-husband. I spoke with my ex-husband and he informed me that he can’t afford to pay back the debt and will not be paying it. Doesn’t he have to pay the debt? The court told him he had to, and it was not my responsibility as part of the divorce.
I accessed my credit report and the credit cards are still listed and showing past due status. My credit score has decreased by almost 100 points because he stopped paying the cards. Am I responsible for this debt or is this something I should dispute to have removed from my credit report?
I completely understand your frustration. I would like to note that I am not an attorney and, as with any matrimonial legal issue, I advise seeking advice from an attorney. With that being said, the bad news is that you most likely owe the debt. Unfortunately, the divorce decree does not supersede the original contract with the credit card company. When you applied for the credit card as a joint applicant, you were accepting the responsibility of paying the debt regardless of what your husband can pay. Basically, it is similar to being a co-signer on a car loan. If the primary person does not pay, the co-signer is legally responsible.
The other part of your question references your credit report. Items on a credit report cannot be removed if they are legitimate. In this case, the information appears to be correct. An option you may want to consider is paying the debt and then taking your ex-husband to court to recoup the money you have paid to the creditors.
I strongly recommend calling Navicore Solutions at 1-800-992-4557 and speaking with a certified credit counselor. The counselor will review your existing budget, examine the debt and provide you with the options for debt repayment.
Kim Cole is the Community Engagement Manager for Navicore Solutions. Kim provides financial education workshops and seminars to communities. Readers can submit general questions relating to personal finance, credit scoring, debt management, student loans, home finance or bankruptcy which may be highlighted in the next month’s edition. All identifying information will be kept anonymous.
Please send your questions via email to DearKim@navicoresolutions.org