my wife has a judgement against her only, can they touch my money in a joint savings account
2 Answers from Attorneys
Yes. The money in a joint account is fully available. You should move the funds to another account. If you move her funds, that may later be questioned in a Citation to Discover Assets or other proceeding, but at a minimum you should protect your funds.
If your wife's financial concerns extend beyond this single issue or if this one is significant, she should consider her options in full, including bankruptcy. There may be options even if she has filed bankruptcy in the past.
The scope of this space does not afford an opportunity to assess the situation and advise fully. I recommend your wife assemble for legal consultation: (1) household income information for July 2016 through the present, including wages and unemployment during that period; (2) all your bills and collection notices (copies neatly assembled, back pages included); (3) last two years’ tax returns; (4) a credit report (use www.annualcreditreport.com to obtain free report if not requested in last year); and (5) other information that may apply, such as copies of lawsuits. She should call at her earliest convenience to afford the most opportunity in which to be advised about the best course.
I do not recommend debtors filing bankruptcy on their own. There are too many complex issues. I have seen several posts on this site for debtors who filed on their own and are seeking counsel concerning complications. Most of them will have a hard time finding an attorney to get involved to unwind the mess without the attorney charging several times what would originally have been paid.
I would just add to Mr. Repay's answer that absent extraordinary evidence that the money realty belongs to one of the two of you, it's my experience that judges presume that funds in a joint account are owned half by each of the two joint account holders, and, absent such extraordinary evidence, might very well limit your wife's judgment creditor to taking only half of the money in the joint account. In addition, your wife can declare a portion of the funds (it might be as much as $4,000) in the account as "exempt" from the judgment, further protecting the money in the account.
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