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My ex filed for bankruptcy: Am I stuck with the debt?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2021 | Divorce & Bankruptcy |

You and your former spouse may have had jointly held debts when you divorced. Your final divorce decree may require your ex to pay a particular joint debt as part of your property division. The decree may also state that you are no longer responsible for that debt.

What happens if your ex files for bankruptcy? Does that debt burden fall back onto you?

From a legal standpoint, the answer is usually “no;” however, you or your former spouse may need to take some additional steps to protect your rights.

Creditors may contact you

From a creditor standpoint, your ex’s bankruptcy typically cancels only his or her responsibility for a joint debt: It does not cancel your responsibility for the debt. Since your name is the only one left on the debt, creditors may contact you for payment. Creditors are not bound by your divorce decree, so arguing with them on this point is likely a waste of time.

Notify the bankruptcy court

The bankruptcy court likely sent you an official notice that your ex filed bankruptcy. That official notice contains contact information for the bankruptcy court, as well as for your ex’s bankruptcy attorney if he or she has one. Contact either the court, the attorney, or both, and include a copy of your final divorce decree. Bankruptcy laws prohibit a debtor from wiping out debts in contradiction to a divorce decree. The bankruptcy judge may issue an order in your ex’s case stating that the joint debt is not dischargeable.

Most likely, your ex was not intentionally attempting to evade responsibility for a joint debt. Bankruptcy laws require debtors to list all debts, even those which may not be dischargeable.