Can a credit card company take money from my wife’s bank account?

UPDATED: Sep 4, 2010

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Can a credit card company take money from my wife’s bank account?

I am being sued by a credit card company. I understand they can get a court order to take money from my bank account, however can they take money from my wife’s personal account? Her name is not on the credit card and my name is not on her account.

Asked on September 4, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Generally, one spouse is not obligated to pay the bills of the other spouse. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. For instance, if you live in a community property state, a spouse would typically bear responsibility for such a debt; however PA is not such a state. Also, if your wife legally obligated herself for such debt (for example if the card was also in her name); but you state that such is not the case here. The last exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessities". Under this doctrine, in some states, one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage (this applies to household and medical bills, for example). Absent any of the above exceptions, your wife's bank account should be safe. And if for some reason your creditor tries to make claim to it, you can go to court and get any garnishment of her account lifted.

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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