Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Divorce

Am I Really Going to be Held Responsible for the Old Debt From My Ex-Wife? – Gene

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

We divorced 3 years ago and split our credit cards – at the time of the divorce one credit card was 4300 – which my ex wife took – she never removed my name – now it’s at 10,000+ and the credit card company is going after both of us – my attorney advised me to take my current wife and my accounts out of my name – which I’m doing – the divorce papers state that they couldn’t hold each other responsible for the others debt. His attorney also said for us not to go to court over the summons

My questions is do I show up and try to fight this – and am I really going to be held responsible for her and her new husband running this credit card up?



Dear Gene,

This is a common problem with divorce. Although you might have a divorce agreement about how the two of you would like to deal with your debt, joint accounts remain joint accounts regardless of what any divorce agreement says.

Your divorce agreement has no bearing on your previous agreements with creditors. When you divorce, you divorce your spouse, not your creditors.

In situations like this you can and will be held responsible for the debt. Your option here is to take your ex-wife to court to enforce your agreement in divorce. Force her to pay. And then, get your name off the joint accounts as quickly as possible.

However, without the balances being zero I would imagine the creditors are going to be reluctant about letting you off the account. There is no easy process to remove a joint account holder unless the creditor agrees to do it.

If your divorce attorney is not familiar with these issues regarding debt, then rush to find a consumer attorney ASAP and discuss this with them. One place to find a consumer attorney who is licensed in your state is to click here.

READ  How to Make a Clean Financial Break at Divorce

If you stick your head in the sand on this and don’t try to fight any suit that names you with any old joint debt, you will lose and a judgment will be entered against you. Your wages could be subsequently garnished.

In fact, if the old joint account is so delinquent that a summons has been issued it is very likely this is already being reported on your credit report and hurting your credit score.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

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.

1 Comment

  • GENE! You got a divorce and just thought “it would be ok” to not have your name removed from the joint accounts!? I sympathize with people in desperate situations, but buddy you need to be proactive when it comes to protecting your financial future. The author Steve was spot on when he used the idiom “head in the sand.” Take charge of your situation! Listen to podcasts about debt, follow FB pages about debt, get on newsletters. The get-out-of-debt online community has a lot of good people trying to feed you information and helping people to get smart.

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