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I’m Being Sued Over a Bill My Ex-Husband Has For Car Repairs

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I received a letter in the mail from a car repair shop stating that they were taking me to court over an old repair bill of my ex husbands. We were divorced August of 2011 and it was decreed that we each pay half this bill.

After the divorce I talked to my ex about it. I told him I couldn’t afford to pay half that bill and half of a ten thousand dollar loan he had taken out while we were married as well.

He told me not to worry about it that he would take care of it. I sent a letter to the repair shop telling them that he would be paying it and I had not heard from them since.

It’s been about a year and out of the blue I get this letter saying I was to be sued. Again I’ve heard nothing from them in a year. If he didn’t pay it they should have at least contacted me before going this route.

Is there anything I can do? Im sure I have no ground to stand on but can they just sue me without attempting to contact me in a year? I couldn’t afford it then and I can’t afford it now. Is there a chance I could settle for a lesser amount? If so how do I do that?


Dear Christina,

This is a very common issue when people get divorced. Your divorce decree is just an agreement between the two of you and not binding on your creditors.

I don’t know if you live in a community property state or why the repair shop would think this is your debt when you say it was your ex-husbands debt only. I have no idea how the repair shop thinks you would be jointly responsible for this debt.

The debt can certainly pop out of the blue. It wasn’t an installment debt and it was owed so I don’t see an issue there.

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As far as settling goes, you can always try to negotiate a settlement with the car repair shop. But you indicated you don’t have the cash on hand now to pay it and I don’t know what you’d settle with.

If you are unable to afford these debts, regardless of what the divorce decree said, you are entitled to a fresh financial start under bankruptcy. A consumer bankruptcy would discharge your responsibility to repay the debt, if you have an obligation to do so with the creditor.

Bankruptcy following divorce is not unusual at all, for just this very reason. Debts that were affordable when incomes were joint, quickly become unaffordable when people try to make it on their own.

I would suggest you click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and talk to them for free. They would also be able to advise you about the community property rules in your state and if you are even responsible for these debts at all.

And if you filed bankruptcy to get the protection from the creditors that the law affords you, there is no reason you could not repay the debt as you could afford to, to your ex-husband if that’s something you wanted to do.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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