How do I get a creditor to honor a divorce decree?

UPDATED: Oct 16, 2010

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How do I get a creditor to honor a divorce decree?

While I was married to my ex-wife, she was the primary cardholder on account. She asked me if I wanted to be on the card with her, and I said yes. So I became an authorized user and received a card in my name. My ex-wife and I are now divorced and the judge ruled that she will be 100% liable for the credit card debt. Now I’m getting calls from the creditor and they refuse to accept my divorce decree because they call it a civil matter. So my question to you is if there’s a way to get them to take my name off of the account?

Asked on October 16, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A creditor is not a party to a divorce action, therefore it is not bound by its terms.  And since CA is a community property state, creditors can hold both you and your former spouse liable for debt that either you or or fomer spouse incurred during marriage. That having been said, to the extent that you are out-of-pocket as a result of this debt, you can sure your wife for reimbursement.

Note:  Being an "authorized user" versus a "joint account holder" typically relieves a person from financial liability - but not in a community property state (unless the debt was incurred before marriage).

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