When a couple gets divorced, and the divorce decree makes one spouse responsible for credit card debt (or other debt), the other spouse should not have to worry about the credit card company contacting them for payment, right? Wrong. The divorce decree determines rights and responsibilities as between the spouses; but in most circumstances, the divorce decree does not affect the rights of third parties.
So, if the credit card company cannot collect from spouse A, the company may try to get payment from spouse B, even if the divorce decree gives spouse A sole responsibility for the debt. If the credit card company obtains payment from spouse B, spouse B’s recourse is to get relief through the family court in the form of reimbursement from spouse A for the amount the credit card company got from spouse B.
The family court has the authority to grant that relief because, while the credit card company’s collection from spouse B does not technically violate the terms of the decree, spouse A’s default on the debt payment, in effect, does violate the terms of the decree, and the family court can remedy that defect.