Please let me clarify a few things so that we understand what the other is saying.
1. A Co-signor is not the buyer;
Example: Mother in law wants to buy a car; she tells the dealer she has to get a loan
for part of the money; okay -
Mother in law applies for a loan - Ford Motor Credit Company tells her - Can't give
you a loan, your credit is not good enough; or says - Can't give you a loan, your
income is not enough;Then Ford Motor Credit says, "Tell you what, Mrs.Mother in law,
I'll give you a loan, if you can get someone to co-sign with you on the Note; Do you
have anyone who can co-sign the Note with you?"
Mother in law says, "Sure, I'll ask my daughter to co-sign the Note with me"
So, you see, a co-signor is someone who signs the loan Note with the buyer, and is just as liable for payment of the loan as the buyer is. So, if the buyer cannot pay or defaults, the lender, Ford Motor Credit Co., can pick and choose who he will go after because they are both equally liable for payment - In this case, your former wife.
Ford Motor Credit probably sued your wife, put a judgment lien on the house and then handed the judgment over to a collection agency to collect the money.
If, at the time you got your divorce, your mother in law had not yet defaulted in payment of her car note, Ford Motor Credit had not yet sued your wife and had not yet filed a judgment lien against the house. But even if they had, your recourse would not be to file a Petiton for Contempt against your wife. You would have been suing her for fraud, not filing a Petition for Contempt.
You had not told me before that your former wife had executed an Indemnity and Hold Harmless Agreement. If you had said this before, I would have told you that this is the basis, the grounds upon which you can sue your former wife.
That Agreement means that if you have to pay a debt incurred by your wife, she is under a legal obligation to "hold you harmless" which means make you whole again by paying you anything you had to pay on her debt.
You can sue her based on that Indemnity and Hold Harmless Agreement, but as in any lawsuit, you must sue either 1) Where the defendant can be served with the Complaint; or 2) Where the cause of action arose.
In this case, you would either go to Alaska to sue her, or wait until she returned, just make sure that the Statute of Limitations does not expire on the debt because if it does, you would not be able to collect.
And, in answer to your last question, the law does not permit you to send someone, even a lawyer, in your place to sue your former wife - only corporations are permitted to do that under the law.
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ANDREA, JD, LLM
Member, NY & PA Bar
Edited by Andrea on 11/2/2009 at 8:32 AM EST