I owe over $30,000 in credit card debt and I need community property and debt relief advice. I have problems. Everything we own is in my wife's name. Can her property be in question?
This question relates to community property and debt relief and I will try to answer both for you.
First, if you need help resolving this debt you can always quickly apply for a free debt consultation with one of Bill's approved debt help partners, click here: Debt Relief Savings Quote
If you are the only person listed on the credit card account, then in most cases, the creditor can only sue you, and therefore only apply a judgment once it has obtained a judgment against you. However, there are a few important exceptions to this rule which you must consider when determining the risk of not paying this debt. First, if you live in a community property state, the creditor could possibly sue both you and your spouse, under the theory that this debt was incurred as a community debt. Also, if your spouse was a co-signor on this account, even if she did not have a card, she may be legally liable for the debt. However, if she was only an authorized user, meaning you simply requested an additional card for her and she never signed a credit agreement, then she is likely not legally liable for this obligation.
Community property is a marital property scheme used by nine states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. In addition, Alaska allows married couples to choose either community property or equitable distribution when determining ownership of marital assets. Generally speaking, if you live in a community property state, debts incurred during the marriage to benefit the community, such as credit cards used to purchase items which will benefit both spouses, are considered community property, and are therefore owed by both spouses regardless of whether or not both spouses are listed on the credit card. For example, if you lived in Washington State and incurred debt during your marriage, both you and your spouse, as a marital community, could be sued to collect on the debt. If a judgment were obtained against you, both you and your spouse's bank accounts could be levied to enforce the debt.
However, even in community property states, many creditors do not go to the trouble of suing both spouses, as doing so tends to complicate the legal process involved in obtaining a judgment. For example, in California, most credit card companies only sue the spouse that actually opened the credit card account. If the creditor chooses to sue only one spouse, and thus obtains a judgment against only spouse who opened the card, the creditor can generally only levy or garnish the assets of that spouse. If you live in one of the community property states mentioned above, and have defaulted on a credit card debt in your name only, I encourage you to consult with an attorney to discuss the possible ramifications for both you and your husband. Since community property schemes vary widely from state to state, it is important to discuss your situation with a legal professional familiar with your states' marital property laws. If you would like to read more about community property in general, I encourage you to read the Bills.com resource Credit Cards and Community Property Law.
If you do not live in a community property state and your spouse was not a co-signor on the credit card debt in question, then she is probably not legally liable for this debt. Therefore, the creditor should not be able to levy her bank accounts, garnish her wages, or take other action against her attempting to enforce the debt. Again, I encourage you to consult with an attorney to discuss your situation, your state laws, and what effects this debt may have on your spouse's assets.
If you are struggling to pay your credit card debts, you should explore the various options available to you to assist you in resolving these debts. I encourage you to visit the Bills.com Debt Help page.
I wish you the best of luck in resolving your credit card debts, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.