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Wage Garnishment Question

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My wife was sued by a firm in Seattle representing Discover Card, for a debt of ~8000. It is currently in JAMS arbitration and the first conference call is scheduled late this month. I would like to know what to expect for the worst case situation. Specifically I want to know if they can come after my wage, etc.


- The debt was soley incurred by my wife

- The debt was incurred in Oregon (common law state)

- We recently moved to Washington (community property state)

- My job is still in Oregon


Given these, can they garnish my wage or the bank account that is not jointly owned?


Thank you for the help!

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I can only give you a generic response.


You've stated your spouse obtained the credit after marriage in a common law state. You now live in a community property state. The debt was incurred solely by your spouse.


The credit obtained by your spouse after marriage would, in a community property state, likely carry the presumption of being community property. The "credit" is an asset of the community. Because it was obtained in a common law state, asset becomes quasi community property in the community property state. Likewise, the associated debt would be considered a community debt, and the community would be liable for it.


In order to defeat the presumption of (quasi) community property, you/spouse will need to show that the credit (and thus the debt) would have been separate property, had the credit been obtained in the community property state. Even though your spouse incurred all the debt, i.e., was the one who used the card, if the purchases were to the benefit of the community, the community will be liable for the debt. That said, you may have a difficult time overcoming the community presumption.


With that in mind, if the debt is in your spouse's name only, and if a judgment were to be entered against her, the judgment creditor is supposed to attempt to satisfy the debt from the separate property of the spouse before attempting to levy on the community. Supposed, is the operative word. In reality, they'll go after whatever they can get. The good news is that your separate property is completely exempt from attachment. The bad news is that your income is considered community property.

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