Can I hold my former spouse liable for half my debts, if our settlement agreement states otherwise?

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Can I hold my former spouse liable for half my debts, if our settlement agreement states otherwise?

Judgment in 2008. Our settlement agreement states that I will be responsible for all debts under my name and vice versa. Is there any way to raise this issue regardless of the signed agreement? I was young, in the Marines as an infantryman, deploying/training non-stop, and ex-wife was trying to make my life miserable to put it mildly. So I signed the agreement without knowledge of what exactly I was signing away on. Now I’m stuck with over $30,000 of debt that she helped build, (but were all under my name).

Asked on November 4, 2010 under Family Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you probably cannot get around the agreement. Settlement agreements, like other contracts, are fully enforceable as per their terms unless you can show something like fraud in the inducement--i.e. that you were knowingly lied to about important elements of the agreement. Simply saying that you wanted to resolve a conflict or bad situation and so signed the agreement without actually knowing what the consequences were doesn't help you--people are expected to know the terms of their contracts and the consequences thereof. So unless your ex-wife or her lawyer did something wrong, such as deceive you, it is not likely that you can avoid or otherwise get around the agreement.


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