Community Debt and Divorce Decrees

Many people make the mistake of thinking that when a Family Court judge orders their ex-spouse to pay a debt that the creditor has to play by those rules.  They don’t.  Creditors have sources of legal rights independent of each spouse.  These can arise in two ways, by signature (e-sign or pen) or by law.

The obvious signature that makes someone liable for a credit card debt is the application.  Whether by signing or clicking, this makes the spouse applying, AND the spouse being “clicked for” liable on the debt once the card is received and it is used.  The not so obvious signature is the one that a card user (not to be confused with card holder) affixes to a sales slip or restaurant bill that “promises to pay” and incorporates by reference all of the terms of the original contract.  Bottom line, if you have ever used your spouse’s credit card you are likely liable for the account.

Liability also arises by operation of community property laws for spouses in community property states.  This is more complicated and, since the late 1990s in Texas, less automatic.  But a careful review of these contracts and purchases is necessary to determine liability.

Your creditors are not parties to your divorce.  If they don’t get paid, you may find yourself forced into Bankruptcy because your ex-spouse doesn’t pay the debts he/she was assigned in the divorce decree.  Be sure you pay close attention before signing your divorce settlement and stay on top of those payments being made thereafter.  Your creditor won’t let you out until the debt is paid.

This article is written by an attorney at Attorney Donald Wyatt PC. Always consult an attorney before making any legal decisions. To make an appointment today for a free consultation, please click here to contact us.