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Steve Bucci, the Bankrate.com Debt AdviserBad ex ignores divorce decree, credit card debt

Dear Debt Adviser,
I've been divorced for almost two years and the divorce decree states that my ex-husband is responsible for half the credit card bills. I have already completely paid off my half of the debt, but my ex-husband has made many late payments on his, which are all in my name only. I have talked with the creditors and they say they do not honor divorce decrees, that they cannot change the cards in his name, that I am responsible for the bills. He is in the Air Force, making over $4,000 a month and lives with girlfriends, so he has no financial obligations other than the debt from the divorce decree and child support. I am a stay-at-home mom with another child on the way. Is there any way to legally have the creditors change the cards in his name and completely remove my name?
-- Diana

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Dear Diana,
No. Your lawyer let you down. He or she settled for an agreement that unnecessarily exposed you to credit damage from your ex. Unfortunately, the contracts that you have with your creditors remain constant and in effect even though your life has been turned upside down by your divorce.

You can remedy this situation in a few other ways. First, you can ask your ex to transfer the balances onto a card or loan that is in his name only. Your letter doesn't lead me to believe this will be successful, but it is the easiest solution if it can be accomplished.

Second, you can have your attorney go back to the judge, explain that the court order is being ignored, and ask for an order requiring your ex to transfer the balance(s) to a new card or loan in his name alone. Ask that he be held in contempt of court if this isn't done at once. This solution might be time-consuming, frustrating and expensive.

Lastly, because your ex is in the military, you have another option open to you. You can contact the commanding officer of the base to which he is assigned, explain that your ex is being financially irresponsible and forward proof of your claim. Ask that the CO intervene and arrange for the court order to be carried out, either by transferring the debt or arranging a noncancellable allotment from his pay. The Air Force takes a very dim view of financial irresponsibility and flaunting a court order. Your ex may well be disciplined if he fails to comply. In any event, my experience is that this course of action will be quick and productive.

For those readers that are on the brink of divorce, please consider the following advice from my book "Credit Repair Kit For Dummies" when it comes to your finances.

Credit-repair advice:

Good luck!

The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation and the author of "Credit Repair Kit for Dummies." Visit MMI for additional debt advice or to ask a question of the Debt Adviser go to the "Ask the Experts" page to ask a debt question.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Aug. 25, 2006
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