In my divorce, my ex-wife and I were to split all debts 50-50. However, she has failed to pay many of the utility bills and now those companies are coming after me for full payment because she is not working.
Can I just show them the divorce court order that I am only responsible for half the debt and that they need to go through my ex-wife for the other half? Or will these companies hold me fully responsible for these debts?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Nebraska and Iowa divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
When a court order exists, the parties must follow the order or risk a possible contempt or Show Cause Action. This would logically present the first option in how to deal with the current set of circumstances.
A party who has not followed the order and apparently refuses to follow the same, will be asked to appear in front of the judge and explain (or “show cause”) why they should not be held in contempt of court for their failure to follow the court order.
In order to be held in contempt in my jurisdiction, it is the burden of the party who has been aggrieved, to show that such failure to follow the order was both “willful” and “contumacious.”
Should the court find the party who failed to follow the order is in contempt, they will be “punished. In your scenario, you would ask that your ex-wife be held liable for half the bills. This would result in a monetary judgment that you can then collect through normal collection procedures.
Telling the companies you owe money to that you are only responsible for half of the payment is only effective if those companies will honor the court order. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
These companies typically hold either individual liable for the full amount as they are only interested in collecting, not in reading court orders. Therefore, they typically have the right to collect the full amount from whomever they can, and then leave it up to the individual who paid too much to hold the nonpaying party liable.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.