Can a joint bank account be garnished if only one of the account holders has a judgement against them?

UPDATED: Feb 7, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Feb 7, 2011Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can a joint bank account be garnished if only one of the account holders has a judgement against them?

My girlfriend and I have been together for 3 years and recently we opened a joint checking account. We have both been divorced from our ex’s for 4 years. Her ex-husband filed for bankruptcy and one of the cards still had my girlfriend as a user. Without warning, our joint account was drained by the creditor. My income is unemployment compensation however hers is from her current job. Can they take from a joint account if we are not married, can they take it if half was unemployment income, and doesn’t she get a chance to defend herself in court, instead of an unexpected garnishment?

Asked on February 7, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Ohio


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A joint account can be garnished even if only one of the parties has a judgment against them; this is true whether or not they are married.  However, to the extent that you can prove which monies were yours, you may get them released.  Additionally, unemployment compensation cannot be garnished.  Right now contact the sheriff or whoever is listed on the writ of garnishment (the bank can help you out with this if need be).  The sheriff's department will then guide you through the process of how to exempt your funds.  However, don't wait; there are time limits.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption