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Help needed ASAP for an upcoming judgement (LONG)


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I have five CC in my name only that have a total balance owing around $20,000. I stopped paying on them 15 months ago. I don't work (and I never kept that from them on my applications). My husband is a Marine and we have a large family. I have an ex who lured the children I had with him away from us some years ago so that he would not have to pay child support any longer (they resent him for it now). He is constantly taking us to court to try to get more money, though, so far the court has stuck with me only paying $50/mo and half their med/den. This last time my atty successfully proved that I cannot work (daycare would eat my wages), especially with my husband gone at times and then add to that we have one child with an inoperable life-threatening tumor and another with heart defects (*note-these are not causing us any montary difficulties for the present).

I planned to file bankruptcy and so only talked to the creditors briefly, telling them that I just couldn't pay anything. I mentioned the bankruptcy. They, of course, were not very understanding. They harassed me so much that we changed to an unlisted number.

I haven't done the bankruptcy, though, because after researching I have learned some things that have scared me. Mainly that since I pay the $50/mo to my ex I will have to list that on the paperwork and he will be notified. He will definitely start up again trying to get more money. The court said he couldn't do it again unless he can prove something changed. Well, though the bankruptcy won't affect anything as far as he's concerned, because at that last hearing that I won the cc were not even a factor in our income. My husband still is the only one working and still has the same bills basically. So I know in the end it should come out fine, but I cannot stand the thought of dealing with this ex over one more thing and the money I will have to pay the atty for that.

Also, we are currently being taken to court by him. I am thinking that it wouldn't even be good to do a bankruptcy till that was over. He is trying to get money for my daughter's orthodontics even though he broke the last order detailing how he was to send me documents and such within a certain time frame. The judge included that if he fails to do so I am not liable. His atty knows this but they are still pursuing it. I should win, unless the judge now handling is a flake. There is a lot more to it, but I am getting away from my original request. Just want to give all the background.

A few months ago I got served with the notice that the company who supposedly aquired one of my accts (the one through DMB) was taking me to court. I answered as it instructed that I have no job/income, no assets, etc... and cannot pay. Last month I got the notice that the court date is Aug 23 for them to get their judgement.

I have been immersed in the thing with my ex and just fighting depression with it all, trying to find solutions but not getting anywhere.

Let me say I accept responsibility for getting into this mess. I only got the cc mainly because of all my ex had drained us of for so long and our children (the ones my new husband and I have together) were going without a lot of necessities. I had never had cc and now see how easy it was to keep charging more and more. I had every good intention to pay them off until it got to where I could not get ahead (DMB especially seemed to find every way to add in tons of fees for things that we didn't really deserve).

At this point I am trying to figure out what best to do.

1) I can let it go. We just sent in the paperwork to remove me from the title of our paid off '97 van. So that will not be a problem. We did the same for deed to our house. My husband is the only one on the mortgage loan, but when we did a refinance last year they put me down on the deed and my dh and I didn't catch it. And we can easily and quickly remove me from our joint bank accts.

But I really don't want this thing hangining there forever. SOL here in NC is 3 yrs I believe. But for judgements it is much longer.

2) I can let it go for now and then do the bankruptcy some months down the road after this other stuff with my ex. Then just get myself used to the thought of having to face him again.

3) I can try to get ahold of the company now at the last minute and see if they would settle for at least half off. The total is $9222 at this time. But I would have to pay in payments for at least 5 months and would be taking from some important areas of our budget (and we would just suck it up), from some military travel pay my husband just received, and also borrowing some.

As I said I have been immersed in this other legal stuff and just now realizing I might need to follow up with this company. When I got the summons it included the DMB cardholder agreement, but did NOT have my name/signature nor anything showing it was my acct from DMB. The agreement was just their general stuff. They say in the summons that they "aquired" the acct from DMB.

I pulled my CR and there is nothing from this company on there! The only two things for DMB are one that lists as HFC and one for Household. Those must have been from when I was paying good, because there is data on there showing my pymts and then it stops at the beginning of this year. One listing says it was purchased by another lender. I just thought that since this other one has had it for several months that they would have listed it, too.

Should they have included proof that they have my acct (with my SIGNED contract)?

But it is probably way too late for debt validation! I do plan to follow the trail, calling DMB to see who they gave it to, etc...

I would feel best about either the bankruptcy, since it is a legal way to get out of debts, or settling, because I did incur the debts and never just wanted to skip out of them scot-free. I am thinking settling would be best to prevent more stress with my ex.

Anyways, any suggestions?? Is it a good chance that they would settle since here in NC they cannot get my dh and I have no assets or money for them to take? Please, I do not need any scolding (constructive criticism is okay) for the trouble I have gotten myself into. I have already accepted blame and given myself enough of that and we now have actually done so good the last 15 months with making it with what we have and sticking with we either pay cash or we don't get it.

My dh will retire in 3 yrs from the military and we are paying off all his bills between now and then so that his very modest retirement will cover most of our needs. Our home is also the money pit so we have some serious repairs that we must do in order to sell it in a couple years. He has a heart defect, too, and both he and our daughter with the defect will need replacement valves sometime during the next 10 yrs most likely. He doesn't have the energy/health to work like this when retired and plans to open his own home business. His credit is good and we plan to keep it that way.

Thank you for reading this long (though greatly condensed :)) discourse. I just really would appreciate any wisdom anybody can offer me as to what might be the best route to get through my problems.

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I certainly wish you well.

Don't worry about your ex and the child support. That is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, and I doubt if having less debt but no income will qualify as a change in circumstances.

You will want to wait before fining to make sure sufficient time has passed regarding the transfer of the titles. There are bankruptcy laws that address that situation, and you will want to be within the confines.

If you are off the title and have no income, let them sue you. You are judgment proof. Even if you end up paying your ex more for the kids, that takes priority over judgment creditors.

It also sounds like you will need your husband's resources to take care of him, your children, house and medicals. Don't use this on your debts. This is expecially so if you think medical bills will mount. Remember, you can only go bankrupt once every seven years. If you do it now, then have a medical catastrophe in 4 years, and you will have no relief.

So again, I'd consider letting the cards in your name go for now. For the DMB one, see if they will enter a "forebearance agreement" wherein they agree not to enter judgment as long as you pay them. They will have to take what you can give them. If they don't want to give you that chance, let it go.

I'd also take some time and resources to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer, to see what your best strategy is. You might also consider Consumer Credit Counselling to help fend off the creditors. It might be a good stop-gap til you are ready for BK.

Wish you well.

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I really appreciate your thoughts, suggestions, and good wisdom! What you said makes so much sense. After I wrote all that out some of those things you mention actually started to become much clearer to me.

I have never heard of the forbearance agreement and will look into that right away.

God bless and thank you so much for your time and help! :D

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BK is not such a bad thing for a person in your circumstances. For now, you will have to appear in court on the date specified. Unfortunately, if you recently got your name off the titles and bank accounts, they may be able to sieze some of it if they can prove you did so to evade having to pay them. This is the same thing the other poster mentioned about bankruptcy law. Assets usually have to be out of your name for at least six months to a year to be totally safe.

Some questions about how the bad-debt buyer (which is a collector under the FDCPA definition) handled this: Did you ever get anything in writing from DMB stating that you have a right to request validation on the debt? If not you may have a counter-claim for violating the FDCPA. Second is when did you last make a payment of the cards? If it was more than 3 years ago, you should be able to get this dismissed because it is past the SoL for your State.

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I didn't know that about them not tolerating removing oneself off of things so close to the judgement. Well, I knew it only when it came to bankruptcy regarding titles, deeds, and property. But not something like this. I guess it is common sense, though. So how could I prove I didn't do that, because in ALL honesty we have been planning to do this for a LONG time. What about witnesses/affadavits, if it comes up? I have told my mom many times that we really prefer to have everything in dh's name and that our van and house accidentally ended up joint. We have talked about changing everything for over a year, but with the medical situations and such it took us a long time to finally get all the paperwork.

Now, about the joint accts, the clerk at the bank told me that as long as I was off it would be fine. She didn't say anything about a timeframe. Could it be she doesn't know? Because we cannot have our money taken...that would be devastating. Well, my dh can just have his direct deposit stopped if at all possible. Amazing how the CA/OC can play by such sneaky, deceptive rules, but yet the debtors cannot give them a taste of their own medicine very easily! It is also weird how the laws are not consistent. When tax refunds are taken that really belonged to the innocent spouse the injured spouse form can be submitted and the money can be recovered. And then, too, here in NC my dh is not liable. Yet bank accts with only money deposited for him, since I don't work, can be wiped out. Amazing! And then wages are not garnished here, yet they can take everything out of your bank acct. You'd think it would all work more similarly.

Also, should I really show up for the court date? I wasn't planning to. The court clerk told me I didn't have to if I wasn't disputing. But of course, that doesn't mean anything. But I have heard mixed things when reading old messages on this forum and the free forums. Some say to go, some say don't bother. I honestly am not looking forward to being publicly scolded for my debt. :) Are there reasons it would be beneficial? Maybe to be sure nothing stupid happens without my knowing?

I don't recall anything from DMB stating I have a right to validate the debt, but I could be mistaken. It has been 15 mos since I stopped paying. I could tear apart some boxes I have in the closet where anything from that timeframe has accumulated.

Yeah...unfortunately this is within the SOL still. Well, my only asset was really the van. Honestly, they can just take the house for all I care, I don't even consider it an asset at this time. And neither with the accts since they usually are empty! We will just both file bankruptcy then. Ha, ha. Get out from under these other bills and even offer to pay my ex more for my children. Ta, da. Just kidding...

I guess I will try for that forbearance agreement. If I can just get them to accept a little payment for now, even if it racks up the interest. To bide the time for a bit, that would really be best for me. Without my working nor having anything it would seem sensible for them to take me up on it.

Thanks for the info. If you can answer any of these other questions I will greatly appreciate it.

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Witness affidavits (or better yet testimony) can be used to show that getting your name off assets was a planned event for quite some time and that it was not done as a means of evading repayment of a debt, but the final decision in such matters is up to the judge. I say this because the collection agency in all likelyhood did not ask for a jury trial. Asking for a jury trial will certainly make things difficult for the CA since it throws the decision into being decided by people that have less of a corporate bias than the judge may.

If you don't show up for court they will get an automatic win against you and will be able to ask for even more $$ for court fees. If you are not there to object, they simply will get whatever they ask for...so don't ignore the court summons.

As for the way credit works, that has always been slanted against the consumer. Think about it. A company can claim you owe them money with no proof whatsoever, send you through the collections wringer, and smash up your credit report and there is nothing to prevent it...nothing. Sure if you can prove they were wrong they have to pay you damages after the fact, but how many consumers go that far? How many simply pay and give in to the corporate extortion?

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