Debt Collection

If you owe debt and you and your spouse have separate bank account can the debtor garnish wages from your spouse bank account?

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2009-03-08 21:34:18
2009-03-08 21:34:18

That depends on the nature of the debt and the laws of your state. You should seek the advice of an attorney to discuss your exposure.

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In most states, creditors can garnish any account joint or not as long as the person they are trying to collect from is on that account. Sorry. The non debtor account holder should supply proof of the amount of funds held in the account that belongs to them. The court will then decide which funds are subject to levy. An exception to the levy of joint accounts is if the account is held by a married couple in a state that recognizes Tenancy By The Entirety of personal property, in such a case, the account cannot be levied when only one spouse is the debtor.


No, not directly. Indirectly the non debtor spouse may find that he or she has a shared joint account levied or joint property encumbered by a judgment against the debtor spouse.


If it can be proven that the debtor has funds going into the non debtors account then the amounts that are going into the non-debtors account that originally were funds belonging to the debtor can be levied.


Florida is not a CP state, therefore if only one spouse is the debtor and the bank account is held as Tenancy By The Entirety it is theoretically not subject to levy. Please note, the non debtor must submit documentation of a TBE defense to the court. Exemption of such bank accounts is not "automatic" and requires a ruling by the court as to the status of the account(s).


Yes. Usually when a joint account is garnished by a judgment order and only one person on the account is the debtor, the court will 'freeze' the account and the non debtor account holder will need to submit proof of the amount of funds in the account that belongs to them. An exception could be,if the account is held by a married couple as Tenancy By The Entirety and only one spouse is the debtor.


Yes, it is legal to garnish a joint marital bank account for a debt incurred by a spouse before marriage with a few exceptions. The first would be if the couple live in a state where a marital account is considered held as Tenancy By The Entirety, if that is the case the account cannot be levied when only one spouse is the debtor. In states that do not allow TBE accounts, the non-debtor spouse would have to file a motion with the court to have the percentage of funds belonging to them released. If the couple reside in a community property state the funds in the account are considered equally owned and the entire amount is subject to levy, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the debt owed. The levying of bank accounts in CP states is the way judgment creditors get around the issue of pre-marital debts not being allowed to be executed against joint marital property.


A judgment creditor can levy a bank account(s) held by the judgment debtor. An account can be frozen by the court when it appears that funds might be removed and/or transferred to avoid the judgment levy or to allow the judgment debtor to claim exempted funds in the account(S) or when the account is jointly held by a person who is not a judgment debtor. A joint account holder who is not a judgment debtor is required to present documents proving to the court the amount of funds that belong to them and which are not subject to a judgment levy. In some instances when an account is held jointly by a married couple and only one spouse is the named debtor the entire account will be exempted from a judgment creditor levy.


Yes. The very rare exception is if the married couple reside in a state that allows the account to be held as Tenancy By The Entirety and only one spouse is the debtor.



Washington State, Can they garnish my pay check because my spouse wages are being garnished to pay off a credit card debt.


Either spouse may file a separate bankruptcy. However, if they are joint debts the non-filing spouse will be responsible for repayment. If the spouse is the sole debtor the non-filing spouse might still be responsible if they reside in a community property state.


Yes. Judgments can be executed against joint accounts with the exception of accounts held by a married couple as Tenancy By The Entirety when only one spouse is the debtor. The usual procedure is for the account to be frozen and the non debtor account holder filing a motion with the court to have the portion of funds belonging to them released. The best option if the debtor believes he or she may be sued, is to remove themselves from the account to avoid the joint holder being penalized. If the debtor has received a civil summons or a judgment has already been awarded, then no action can be taken in regards to the account to prevent attachment by the judgment creditor.



Marriage counseling. Get a separate bank account. Get a divorce.


A judgment creditor might be able to levy against a joint account where only one account holder is the debtor. It really depends how the bank account is held and the state laws pertaining to such. One example, joint marital bank accounts held in community property states are subject to levy even if only one spouse is the named debtor.


No. Debts made before marriage do not carry over into the marriage and become the responsibility of a new spouse, this includes community property states. However, the creditor can request the court to "freeze" the account of the non debtor spouse to determine if the account holds any funds that actually belong to the debtor spouse. All Social Security benefits, RRB, government pensions, all disability benefits, most private pensions, public assistance and child support (not spousal maintenance) are exempt from a judgment creditor.


If you reside in a CP state all debts incurred during the marriage are considered joint regardless of which spouse is the account holder. If the debts were made by the debtor spouse before the marriage the 'innocent' spouse is not responsible for the debt(s). However, the joint marital bank account can be levied and/or liens placed against real property to the extent of the ownership of such by the debtor spouse. In non-community property states, the spouse who is the account holder is the only person responsible for the debt. However, a joint bank account not held as TBE can be levied by a judgment creditor as well as an encumberance of a lien against jointly owned marital property unless it is also held as TBE.


A property lien is an attachment to the property, not the debtor. The answer would be "no", that won't help you get out of paying the debt.


Yes, they do. Unfortunately, they will take every penny that is in your account, and they won't tell you before they do it either. All they have to have is a judgement against you. I was falsely informed that if my husband's name was on the account that they couldn't take money from the account, but that wasn't true either. They can garnish any account with your name on it, or with you as a co-signer. The smart thing to do is to take your money from the account and have your pay deposited into an account that doesn't have your name on it...someone you trust like your spouse or parents or child. They can garnish your pay as well, but only 25%.


In all likelihood it would be possible. In community property states a married couple own all property obtained during the marriage equally (with the exception of inheritances). Likewise, they owe all debts incurred during the marriage equally regardless of which spouse is the account holder. In most cases that would allow a creditor to levy a bank account that is held solely by the non debtor spouse. Texas and Wisconsin are not "true" community property states as they treat marital debt in a different manner than do all other CP states.


Yes, if your spouse had your permission to open the account.


If the account was joint then the surviving spouse is responsible for the debt. If the account was held solely by the deceased spouse the surviving spouse is NOT responsible for the debt and is not legally obligated to repay such nor to correspond with the creditor or collector. If the surviving spouse so chooses he or she may inform the collector that the account holder is deceased and also inform the collector that they should "cease and desist" all contact with the family. Florida is not a community property state. Marital property is generally treated as Tenancy By The Entirety, which makes it immune to creditor action if only one spouse is the debtor.


No. Please be advised, that if the creditor sues for the debt and wins a judgment the judgment can be executed against a bank account held by a married couple even if only one spouse is the debtor. The non-debtor spouse would be required to supply the court with documentation of his or her ownership rights to the bank account that could be subject to levy. Likewise, the judgment creditor might be able to place a lien against property jointly owned for the debt owed depending upon how said property is titled.


She is only responsible if she is an actual joint account holder. Having a second card on the account does not make her liable for the debt. The person(s) making the original contract is the one who is the sole debtor


If the separated spouse is still legally married to the debtor spouse and/or co-signed the original obligation while married, yes.



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