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My Wife Was Sued Over an Old Debt From a Previous Marriage. – Chris

“Dear Steve,

My wife had a BofA credit card she acquired during her previous marriage. Long story short shortly after receiving the card, her husband filed for divorce. She had no money and reverted to using the credit card to pay for essentials to take care of her kids and herself.

As you would expect she fell behind and tried to keep up but just couldn’t. She called the CC company to ask for help and they said “sorry your not far enough behind to be offered assistance (less than 60 days late).

She was told to call back at 60 days and was told again “no” to call back at 90 days. When she called back after 90 days she was told her account was closed and referred to collections.

Collection companies started calling her and harassing her. I listened to several conversations she had where the representative hung up on her! To wrap things up…she ultimately was served a lawsuit by a snake lawyer who also refused to work with her. She went to see a lawyer and he told her to just let it go.

We live in Texas which is a debt friendly state and as long as you don’t have anything they can’t take anything. Eventually a default judgement was awarded against her.

This week the snake (lawyer) sent some official looking discovery papers asking her every question under the sun about her financial status. All of the debt was acquired prior to us marrying and now his discovery papers are asking all kinds of questions about my (husband) financial status. What assets I have etc. etc.

I am going to setup a meeting with a different lawyer and try to resolve the matter. The snake would accept a settlement or a payment plan that is anything less than what he dictates.

My question is…am I taking the correct approach getting my own lawyer involved and can the snake come after my assets which 99% of which were mine before we married?


Dear Chris,

You are absolutely correct to get your own lawyer involved in this. I am not a lawyer.

My understanding is that Texas is a community property state but that debt acquired before the marriage is not the responsibility of the married partners. And it does not sound like you were ever added or signed as a joint account holder on the Bank of America card.

closeup of a gavel on cash, from aboveI can hear your anger over this situation but if possible, I’d suggest you stop looking at the other attorney as a “snake” and find a way to minimize your anger. I say this simply because I don’t want you to get emotionally sucked in to this situation but to deal with the facts in an educated and impartial way. At the end of the day this legal dance is a game designed to frighten and intimidate you. Don’t let it.

Texas is a friendly state for debtors. In Texas, your wages may not be garnished by creditors except for child support, alimony, taxes, and student loans. So while your wife might not have her wages garnished, they are still pursuing the debt.

I know nothing about the rest of her situation but if you can not reach a mutual agreement with the lawyer over the old debt, then once consideration would be a chapter 7 bankruptcy just by her, if appropriate.

I hope this helps. Please keep me posted on what happens here. I’m very curious on how this will all turn out.

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

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About Steve Rhode

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.
  • bweb

    Chris, since you are in TX if your wife has tried to set up payment arrangments over the phone to resolve the debt with creditor’s attorney with no success, I recommend putting your offer in writing. As long as your offers are reasonable, they will most likely come back with a couple of offers you could probably afford. However, since there is a judgement granted your options are limited, one of those is to appeal the judges decisions to grant the judgment, arguing an error in a law accrued.

  • Cat Alford

    Good luck! Sounds like a terrible situation.

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