Can the government legally take 100% of my wages to pay for a debt my husband owed before we were married?

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Can the government legally take 100% of my wages to pay for a debt my husband owed before we were married?

6 months after marrying I found out that my husband owes a lot of money to the government. Now they are threatening to take my car and 100% of the income. If I file for divorce can they still take my things from me? The house is his and he is already paying them most of what he makes. I have wanted out for a long time but now I face losing everything I worked do hard to get is there anything I can do?

Asked on August 20, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Kansas

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The debt your spouse incurred is usually considered to be a separate debt by most if not all state laws.  Therefore, consider those threats to be idle unless you own joint bank accounts with him, which would be mean they get to whatever money is in the joint account. You can begin by opening a separate account and consider contacting the Federal Trade Commission and your Attorney General in case the actions and threats made by the creditor are against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and any state consumer protection act.

On to your divorce issue.  Kansas is an equitable distribution state, which means your assets and debts are distributed equally unless the court finds one party holds a better burden with respect to any asset or debt.  This works in your favor because your husband's pre-marital debt would continue to be his separate debt and his separate matter to take care of, without your help.  Consider for both matters to keep track how often the creditor or collection agency calls and indicate that according to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, that creditor or collection agency cannot discuss the debt with you as you are not the debtor.


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