Can a joint account be garnished if only one of the account holders owes the debt?

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Can a joint account be garnished if only one of the account holders owes the debt?

Asked on November 19, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Kentucky

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The law on garnishments varies from state-to-state.  However, typically, a bank account that is jointly owned by a debtor and non-debtor ( a joint account) can be garnished. Once a garnishment is ordered a debtor should receive notice from the court that issued the order. In most jurisdictions a debtor has 30 days or more to file for an exemption with the court before the money is actually removed from the account.  A debtor can file an exemption stating that the money in the checking account is not theirs (or only partially theirs).  Proof will be needed to back this claim up (a direct deposit receipt or a deposit slip and copy of the non-debtor's paycheck, etc). If the money has already been removed from the joint account and the creditor did not receive the entire amount owed, it can go back to court to obtain another garnishment order. Additional orders can be placed by the creditor until the entire debt amount has been collected.  To avoid any additional garnishments of the non-debtor's money, they should stop making deposits into the account in question (as well as into any account with the debtor's name on it).


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