Q: I live in Michigan and lost my job in may 2009. I have quite a bit of credit card debt that is in my name only.
My only income is unemployment. I do not have a bank account in my name.
My unemployment is deposited to my husband’s bank account.
If I am sued, can a creditor seize my husband’s account even though it isn’t his debt, since the unemployment is going into his account?
A: I’m sorry for your job loss and credit problems.
While I’m not a lawyer, nor an expert on garnishment law in your state, I do not believe that a creditor would be able to seize the money in your husband’s bank account for several reasons.
First, you indicated that your debts are in your name alone.
That means that you are the one legally responsible for those outstanding obligations; not your husband. Additionally, you stated that the account in question is your husband’s alone.
As you are not an owner or co-owner of that bank account, I do not see how a creditor would be able to get a judgment or a garnishment order from a court to tap into an account that does not belong to you.
Lastly, some types of assets are protected from seizure and garnishment. In certain states, unemployment checks fall into that category. I know you are cash strapped right now and likely can’t afford to pay big bucks to a lawyer.
But at the very least, I would suggest that you reach out to a legal aid clinic or a low-cost attorney service for more insights into this matter.
The only tricky matter is whether or not the state of Michigan forces individuals to pay the credit card debts of spouses.
I honestly do not think so; but I can not say with 100% certainty whether that is true when someone has been sued, or perhaps a judgment against an individual has been issued.
A good consumer lawyer will be able to give you more definitive answers. Good luck!