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My wife has old debt from 6 years ago. We live in WI and…

My wife has old...

My wife has old debt from 6 years ago. We live in WI and just received a letter from Portfolio Recovery Assoc. that they had purchased debt from debts in 2012. WI has a debt statue of limitations of six years. These debts were incurred by herself before we were married in 2014. Can they garnish my wages and can she just hold out because of the statue of limitations? She doesn't work stay at home mom. your thoughts please

Lawyer's Assistant: Has your wife talked to a WI lawyer about this?

No but she had filed Chapter 13 5 years ago, but it wasn't dismissed because of her child support arrears

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps has your wife taken so far?

None, we're thinking of re-filing chapter 13 again

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

She has two rental properties. One is in foreclosure and the other one is not. They were both purchased in her name alone before we were married

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Answered in 4 hours by:
3/20/2018
Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 31,900
Experience: Lawyer
Verified

Hi,

I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your dilemma.

You're not liable for your wife's debts from before you married, so they cannot garnish your wages to pay a judgment. They can, however, levy any bank accounts with your wife's name on them - even if they are also in your name. So, if you're depositing your paycheck into a joint bank account, they'll be able to sweep out anything in there other than current wages. The money in those accounts is legally considered owned by both of you, even though your wife isn't making the deposits. They would also be able to use a judgment to put a lien on the rental property not in foreclosure, which could then be used to foreclose the property. Whether they would do that depends largely on the amount of equity in the property versus the total amount of the judgement.

She can hold out until the statute of limitations expires, unless the debt was originally incurred in another state (because the statute of limitations gets paused when you leave the state for an extended period). She may want to double check to see if this debt was part of the original bankruptcy and, if so, what happened.

She has a right under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act to insist that they provide her with proof that the original debt is valid, as well as evidence that they legally purchased the debt from the original creditor - or from another debt collector. They need to be able to trace the debt all the way back to the original creditors. Sometimes, these debts get packaged and resold over time, and many debt collectors don't keep good records. If they don't have the evidence, they can't win in court, which means she could also force them to sue her. The benefit to asking for that proof now is that they're not allowed to continue collection efforts for 30 days, or until they provide that evidence. And if they don't send it, they're not allowed to collect at all. Here is a sample letter:

https://aaacreditguide.com/debt-validation-letters/

Another option is to offer to make monthly payments, or to pay significantly less that what was initially owed. These debt collectors tend to pay very little for debts - pennies on the dollar sometimes, so if you get to a point where it looks like they might sue before the statute of limitations runs out, you might be able to negotiate a settlement to let you pay less than the total.

Have I answered your question? If any part of my response is unclear, please reply WITHOUT rating so I can clarify. My goal is to provide excellent service, so if I've done that, please give me a 5-star rating before signing out. Thank you for using JustAnswer.

Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 31,900
Experience: Lawyer
Verified
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hi Lucy, I just have some follow up questions for you to answer. My wife had filed chapter 13 before we were married. This was in 2012 and it was for a 5 year installment plan ending in 2017. She made her payments on time, but during the 5 year plan she accrued child support arrears which never allowed the Chapter 13 to be dismissed. That's where Portfolio Recovery comes onto the scene. They purchased two debts according to the notices I received yesterday from the original chapter 13 bankruptcy. One was purchased on 7/30/2012 and the other 5/19/2012. According to my research Wisconsin has a 6 year statue of limitations. My wife doesn't have any bank accounts and doesn't work anymore due to medical conditions. She's a stay at home mom. The only thing they could possibly do the way I look at it is to put a lien on the rental property that's not in foreclosure. The notices are giving us 30 days to respond. Wouldn't the statute of limitations take affect by the time this goes to court?Your thoughts and comments
thanks

The statute of limitations applies to how long they have to file the lawsuit, not when it has to go to court. They could file a complaint on the final day of the six year period and still be within the statute.

With that said - if they bought the debt on 5/9/12, then the statute of limitations has probably already expired. They don't get six years from the date they buy it. They get six years from the date your wife stopped paying on the debt. For them to even have the ability to buy it, usually the debt would be more than a few months old. It may already be too late for them to collect. In which case, it's illegal for them to even threaten to sue, because the debt is expired.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
if that's the case would both of the debts be expired? 7/30/2012 and 5/19/2012 if they were part of the Chapter 13 from 2012?
How would I respond to them to notify them that the status of limitations has expired or wouldn't hey know that themselves?Next steps I should take??thanks

The next step is to check to see when your wife last made payments on those debts and when they were incurred. See if she can tell you, or see if the bankruptcy documents mention it anywhere. If she paid as part of the bankruptcy, you should see that.

You can also ask them to send you proof of payment history.

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