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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    How long after a judgment(and/or garnishment summons) can a collector wait?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Virginia

    Hey all - Let me first get this out of the way. The debt I am going to refer to, I do not dispute. I am not one of these poor me, I made a bad decision so I should be forgiven types. However, I do want to be sure what our rights are so we do not get screwed.

    My wife had a credit card in her name from before we were married. She couldn't pay it, went to court back in May of 2008 and got a judgment against her. A few months later she went back to court for a garnishment hearing. At this time, she did not have a lawyer as she assumed that because she did not dispute the charges she didn't need one. They didn't even let her speak in court though.

    I am not sure about VA in regards to if the type of garnishment has to be specified. It appears on the summons that it was referencing a wage garnishment. She has worked every day since this date and not one time did they garnish her checks.

    We haven't gotten anything from them in a long time and was just starting to form a plan of action to pay all our debts down. This was one I was going to try to settle if possible - they were trying to charge us $3,664 for an $800 bill. However, we were not at that point yet, so I just had it in the pile. No sense in calling them if I cannot bring anything to the table.

    Well, today I went to get a drink and the store and my bank account was declined. This is weird because just this morning I had like $600 in there.

    I checked my account and there is a $3,664 garnishment hold on my account. But it gets better. My wife has her own account and that was garnished for the same amount as well. The bank said that right now they are just holds. She only had like $200 in her account.

    My account was initially a sole account; however, I added her on there one day so she could cash a check off my account. That is the only involvement she has ever had with that account. I can prove that every bit of money in that account comes from my payroll and not hers. So, essentially, they took my money for her debt. I understand that we are married, and all that jazz, but still...just doesn't seem right as this is our livliehood and we have 3 kids - all this 2 weeks before Christmas...great souls they are right?

    I have to wait until tomorrow to call them to see what I can do. However, my question is this - can they really wait this long to all of a sudden go through with the garnishment. Its been more than 3 years..I thought that this process had to happen sooner than that.

    Also, in VA will there be any recourse for the joint account and me being able to prove this is all my earned income?

    Finally, at the time of the garnishment hearing, the Homestead Exemption was reference, but there was no information listed on there and it was never explained, so she never claimed it. Is there a statute of limitations on claiming that?

    Sorry for all the questions, but this (obviously) has me stressed out. Thanks!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Ho Ho Ho, Wouldn't YOU like to know ;)?
    In the state of Virginia, domestic judgments are collectible for 20 years after the original judgment date. Absolutely no issue here as far as their time allowed to proceed, it probably just took the collectors that long to find assets they could take to satisfy the debt.

    When you put your wife, that made your bank account fair game for the collectors. They don't know what part of that account is yours and which is hers. They just see her name on there, and it makes it available for garnishment or levy. As long as the money there is available to her, it makes it available to the collectors to satisfy her debt. You can probably challenge that, but until you do, that freeze will stay on the account.

    Want the collectors to back off? How about having your wife pay her debt? Maybe you could even give her a special Christmas present and pay it off for her. That way, the collectors will be gone (for this debt, anyway) and she will never have to worry about it ever again.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Thanks for the quick response. I figured as much, but the part about finding assets to freeze I do not buy. Like I said, she has had a job the entire time and we have had the same bank accounts the entire time. That's neither here nor there though at this point really.

    And if was as easy as her just paying it off, we would have. Like many Americans we are paycheck to paycheck, but trying to get ahead slowly but surely. Not trying to punt a sob story here, but I'm just saying. As I mentioned, we were not trying to not pay it, we can only do what we can you, you know?

    My biggest gripe at this point is that I do not think that they can freeze the joint account as easily as they have in the state of VA. While I am not a lawyer, I am intelligent enough to make it through some of the less complicated aspects of case law (and in fact at one time considered being a lawyer, but the world has enough of those, so decided to do something else.)

    From what I read in Virginia Code § 6.1-125.3 Ownership during lifetime; garnishment, attachment or levy - at MOST ownership in a joint account can only be equally divided (i.e. half) unless it can be proven otherwise by either party.

    "A joint account belongs, during the lifetimes of all parties, to theparties in proportion to the net contributions by each to the sums ondeposit, except that a joint account between persons married to each othershall belong to them equally, and unless, in either case, there is clear andconvincing evidence of a different intent."

    The thing is that I can without a doubt conclusively prove that ALL money deposited into this account for the history of the account has solely been put there by my personal wage direct deposits.

    Additionally, I found case law precedence that might show they cannot touch any of it based on tenancies by the entirety. I have to check on the signature form where I added her to my account to see if it explicitly lists right of survivorship.

    Jeri Sulzman v. Richard J. Barnick ([url=http://www.lexisone.com/lx1/caselaw/freecaselaw?action=OCLGetCaseDetail&format=FULL&sourceID=bdjcca&searchTerm=ejhU.HZCa.aadj.ebCD&searc hFlag=y&l1loc=FCLOW]Jeri Sulzman v. Richard J. Barnick - Virginia - Case Law | Lexisone[/url])

    Ended in a motion to quash and dismiss garnishment based on the fact that a joint account can be held to be both divided equally based on the statute of 6.1-125.3. However, the tenancy of entirety actually means that both spouses are entitled to the entirety of the account (because of the survivorship clause). Therefore, while it would seem this could mean they could in fact take all of it, 6.1-125.3 forbids that; however, I too would legally own the entire account, meaning they could not touch any of it.

    It is true they can still take all of her bank account, but that is much less money off our table than the joint account.

    Am I way off here?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    You have 21 days to file a claim to the money. Read the rest of the statute. Talk to an attorney.


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