Is the wife responsible for a debt that her husband accrued after the separation?

UPDATED: Aug 19, 2010

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Is the wife responsible for a debt that her husband accrued after the separation?

We have been separated for 4 years, although not legally. He accrued a debt during this time which I was unaware of. Recently we both were served with legal papers from the creditor. He said he would take care of it and, like an idiot, I didn’t do anything about it. Today my employer received papers to fill out so my wages can be garnished. Is there any legal course that I can take?

Asked on August 19, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Oregon


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You need legal help with all of this.  What happened is that a default was taken against you by the judge,ment creditor.  That means that since you did not file any papers in response to the papers you were served with (which would have been an Answer) they proceeded against you to get a judgement which they are executing through garnishment.  First what needs to be determined - which is unclear here - is what kind of debt he accrued.  Is it credit card debt?  Was it a joint account when you were married or did he open it in your name and without your knowledge?  If it was an account you applied for then your recourse here will be against him in the divorce action or otherwise.  If it was an account he opened without your knowledge then you have a defense to this matter.  What you have to do is move to vacate the judgement and stay the garnishment.  Not an easy task but it can be done.  Then do yourself a favor when this is straightened out and file for divorce.  Good luck.

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