Get Out of Debt Guy

My Ex-Husband Sued My Daughter Over a Student Loan

Posted May 10

Question:

Dear Steve,

My ex husband co-signed a private student loan for my daughter through Wells Fargo. The loan was for 1 year of study at FIDM. My daughter was not making the payments.

My ex husband who lives in AZ filed court papers against my daughter and received a judgement for almost $50,000.00 (including thousands in court/attorney fees.)

My daughter lives in WA. The judgement has now been handed over to a collection agency in the state of WA who is now garnishing 25% of her wages. My daughter would like to take over the payments for the student loan; she can’t afford to pay her father and pay the student loan.

Wells Fargo denied her request to have her fathers name taken off the loan and she can’t qualify for a loan of that amount elsewhere. Communication with her father is also not an option.

What does my daughter need to do to stop the collection from her father so she can work with Wells Fargo to begin making payments.

Sandi

Answer:

Dear Sandi,

I am not an attorney and what I can share is my opinion and experience, not legal advice.

So it sounds as if there are two issues here. The first would be the private student loan your daughter signed to attend Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. Your ex-husband was ill advised to co-sign.

The first rule of co-signing is you should never co-sign.

The lawsuit seems to be the result of your ex-husband proceeding with a civil action against her and not anything formal by Wells Fargo. These appear to clearly be two different issues.

Since communications with your ex-husband isn’t really an issue and he has already won a judgment and is now collecting on it, then it seems the best way forward would be for your daughter to file bankruptcy, discharge the debt and stop the wage garnishments. Bankruptcy would give her the protection of the law and terminate the debt.

There is no reason to assume your ex-husband won the case, judgment, and garnishment for any reason other than it does not sounds like your daughter defended herself so she lost by default.

Her other option would be to try and unwind the entire suit for some technical reason but that would probably be significantly more expensive to pursue than a bankruptcy.

The frank reality is bankruptcy protection would give your daughter the full protection of the law for the least cost. It’s a matter of economics, not morality, or anything else.

After filing for bankruptcy and terminating the wage garnishment and debt your ex-husband is trying to collect, your daughter could then deal with Wells Fargo directly. But there is some question if Wells Fargo is even still trying to collect the loan from her.

However, Wells Fargo may no longer be able to sue your daughter if your husband repaid the loan, which seems like his basis for suing her, or the statute of limitations has expired.

Tell your daughter to go see a couple of bankruptcy attorneys who are licensed in Washington State and get some free consultations to better understand her options.

There is no reason she would have to speak to your ex-husband to pursue this solution.

This article by Steve Rhode first appeared on Get Out of Debt Guy.

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.