Legal Question in Consumer Law in Texas

My wife prior to our marriage racked up medical debts that are in the $20,000 dollar range. Her mother received bills and threw away and debt went to a collection agency which I now found out about on her credit report since we are in process of looking for a house. I have great credit am employed, and have money in accounts prior to marriage, as well as commingled money since I put her on all accounts. Numerous questions: 1. Can creditors go after me since state of Texas and we have joint bank acts and I put her on my credit card? 2. I refinanced her car and am debating whose name to put title in- should I put in my name in case creditors go after just her, 3. Should I move around money that is joint acts that was totally mine before marriage and put in separate acct which I already have in just my name, 4. Can my wages be garnished or a lien put on my house if I buy with commingled down payment 5. Best way to handle- do I wait four years for statue of limitations to be over before buying house thanks.

Asked on 3/19/14, 3:44 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Mark Dunn Mark D. Dunn

1. You are not PERSONALLY liable for her debts. However, if there is money in a joint account, or if you and she own community property, it COULD be seized to pay the debt. The Texas Property Code (chapter 42) deals with exempt property.

"Putting her on your credit card" doesn't mean anything.

2. Don't worry about the car. They won't seize the car, unless she owns several of them.

3. YES, moving money is a good idea.

4. There is no wage garnishment in Texas for ordinary debts. Your wages CAN be garnished for (a) child support, (b) alimony, or (c) back income taxes.

Nobody will "put a lien on your house." If the creditor obtains a judgment, he will record it at the County Clerk's office, and it will show up on the title report when you sell the house, but technically an ordinary judgment lien does NOT attach to homestead in Texas.

5. If the 4-year statute of limitations is close, go ahead and wait before buying a house; however, because homestead is exempt, it just doesn't make much difference.

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Answered on 3/22/14, 7:48 am

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