How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Lucy, Esq. Your Own Question
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 26990
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Lucy, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My divorce was final last December. Our marital home is being

This answer was rated:

My divorce was final last December. Our marital home is being foreclosed on (she is still residing there part time), and there is PMI on the 1st mortgage; however, there is a second mortgage for approximately 10k. I received a notification from a debt collector that they would be willing to settle the debt for 5k. My ex-wife is not cooperating about sharing the debt. There are no terms in our divorce regarding either mortgage or the home. Can I sue her for 1/2 of the settlement amount 2.5k?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

You unfortunately cannot hold your ex-wife automatically liable on a settlement that you agreed to without her consent. There are, however, a few other options. One is to go back to the divorce court and file a Motion for Clarification, asking the judge to address who is responsible for that debt or alternatively asking him to order her to pay half of the money owed on the second mortgage. If the property was acquired during the marriage, this is a marital debt and is something that should have been addressed during the divorce. If you tried to file in Small Claims Court, the judge might dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and refer you back to the family law judge.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So because I accepted the settlement already, I have no recourse? Or can I still go back to family law court and ask for redress of the debt that I have paid?

You can still go back to the family law court and ask the judge to state who is responsible for that debt and to order her to give you half, based on the fact that it's a marital debt and should have been divided equally between you. If you tried to bring a suit in a different court, you likely wouldn't be successful.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Last follow up, given that I am a much higher earner than she is would that fact be considered in family court when deciding if she owed anything on the debt? Also, would she be able to contest and request more alimony if I went back to court to settle just this debt in family court or would she have to reopen the case under that particular request...Finally, what would you estimate my chances of getting half that money back based on what I've said so far? Likely, somewhat likely, don't bother...


Thanks for your time.

Washington is a community property state. In a community property state, each spouse is entitled to roughly half the marital assets - and responsible for roughly half the marital debts. Income shouldn't come into play, although the judge can consider what amount of marital debt she has inherited when determining alimony initially.

She would have to request a modification to alimony. In order to get it, she would have to show a material change in circumstances. That's a separate request - the judge wouldn't automatically change her alimony just because you asked him about a debt that wasn't addressed during the divorce.

As far as the chances of getting the money back, that really depends on her. Does she actually have any money to pay you with? Would she give it to you or would she make you go back to court a third time to get it? Would she allow you to deduct it from the alimony (in writing), or would she try to have you held in contempt if you wanted to do that? Do you owe her money that it could be deducted from, like a property settlement that isn't transferred yet? Is she going to drag it out for months and make you miserable trying to collect? And if so, is your time and energy worth more than what you're asking her to pay? Those are all personal decisions, but they are important considerations.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Okay I guess, one more question. I should have probably put that my divorce occurred in does that change the situation if at all?

Oregon isn't a community property state, so it's a little different. Oregon is an equitable distribution state. The judge will divide assets and debts in a manner believe to be fair, but not necessarily equal. He's supposed to start with a 50/50 presumption. One thing that could help estimate what he might do is to look at how he divided other debts - did he split them down the middle or did he give one of you a bigger percentage? How did he split the assets? That might give you an idea of whether he's likely to assign her half the debt.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 26990
Experience: Attorney with experience in family law.
Lucy, Esq. and 3 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
< Previous | Next >
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL

Meet The Experts:

  • Ely


    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
< Last | Next >
  • Ely's Avatar


    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • LawTalk's Avatar


    Attorney and Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    30 years legal experience. I remain current in Family Law through regular continuing education.
  • Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.


    Satisfied Customers:

    I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
  • Tina's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:

    JD, 17 years legal experience including family law
  • P. Simmons's Avatar

    P. Simmons


    Satisfied Customers:

    16 yrs. of experience including family law.
  • Barrister's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:

    Attorney with 15 years experience
  • AttorneyTom's Avatar



    Satisfied Customers:


Related Family Law Questions