My wife & I received a complaint because there are some outstanding medical bills; my wife contacted the complainant to inquire about lessening the amount owed & spoke with a collection agency; the collector stated that if we don't pay the entire amount that they will garnish her wages. My question is: those bills were under my name so does the collection agency have the right to garnish my wife's wages? The reason given was because we live in a community property state (Washington). I was the one who signed all of the documents but the insurance is through my wife's employer.
State/Country relating to question: Washington
just what was stated (contacting the collector)
Hello and welcome,Yes, as a community property state, debts incurred by either spouse during the marriage are typically obligations of both spouses, so either spouses' wages could be garnished. Keep in mind that a garnishment may occur only if a judgment is obtained normally (unless you have agreed in writing to have the wages garnished), so the creditor would need to file suit and obtain a judgment against both of you before a garnishment would be entered by a court normally.If they name only you in the lawsuit, then they could not garnish your wife's wages typically since the judgment must be against both of you for both to be held liable on the debt.Here is a link that provides more information on this:http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/debt-marriage-owe-spouse-debts-29572.html
Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time. Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and reply to me via the REPLY TO EXPERT button with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to explain your concern to your satisfaction.
Thank you and all the best to you,
Good evening. I wanted to thank you for using JustAnswer, and to inquire whether my answer to you was helpful to your understanding of the law, as regards XXXX XXXXXXXX. Is there anything else that I can assist you with? If not, would you please now rate my service to you highly. Thanks in advance!
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).