Am I responsible for a judgement against my wife before I met her?

UPDATED: Dec 3, 2011

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Am I responsible for a judgement against my wife before I met her?

A local attorney froze my checking account this week (joint with my current wife) for an old credit card judgement against her from 17 years ago. I did not know her then; we married 9 years ago. My wife has no income and all deposits into the account are mine. Is this legal? I am a carpenter so said money was from my customers to do work for them and now I have no access to it?

Asked on December 3, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You personally are not responsible for the judgment against your wife before you married her. The problem is that in many states in this country, one-half of the marital or community property estate may be responsible for the judgment of the spouse incurred before marriage.

The reason why the joint checking account was levied upon was because it was a joint account with you and your wife. I suggest that you consult with a debt collection attorney about making a claim of exemption as soon as possible as to a portion of the joint checking account. You also need to ascertain if the judgment against your wife was ever renewed. If not, the judgment could be barred from being collected upon.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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