My fiance has student loans and medical bill debt from before we met. He is currently unemployed and waiting on a judgement for disability benefits and SSI. If we get married, will I be responsible for his old debts? If he remains unemployed, could debt collectors garnish my wages if we become married? We don't have any joint accounts. We live in New York state. Thank you.
You will not be legally responsible for his debt. However in case he gets sued on his debts and the creditors seek a judgement and then try to freeze bank accounts, you should continue to keep all asset accounts seperate to protect yourself. If you have a joint bank account, the judgement creditor could freeze that account and eventually take the money in it, even if most of it is yours.
The first thing you need to do if and when you get sued is file an Answer. The summons will tell you that you must “appear” by way of an Answer in 10, 20 or 30 days, “depending on the method of service.”
PLEASE CHECK THE LAW IN YOUR STATE AS YOU MAY ACTUALLY HAVE TO APPEAR IN COURT, AS IN VIRGINIA, IN ORDER TO AVOID A DEFAULT!
You need a lawyer, but if you cannot afford one right away, rather then do nothing and have a judgment entered against you, is to “appear” by filing something!
Many people think this means they have to go to Court and this is incorrect. 90% of all lawsuits end in Default Judgments because the defendant (person getting sued) did not file an Answer.
I recommend you go to the free form I have on my website. Print it out and fill it out as instructed. You must answer the numbered paragraphs on the Complaint by writing them into the appropriate lines in the Answer. The Answer will allow you to preserve your rights and will prohibit a default judgment (i.e. you did not show up) from being entered against you.
Go to “The Answer” click on it and read the materials. Click on the form and a pdf of the document can be printed for your use. Make any changes you think are appropriate.
Mimic the paperwork you got when you got sued. Answer all the paragraphs of the Complaint by writing the numbers in lines 1, 2 or 3.
Almost 100% of attorneys will deny what is owed because they did not do the calculations and do not know what the basis for the number is…
When you file the Answer that is your “not guilty”. You have the right to make the person suing you (Plaintiff) prove their case, but you must also answer the complaint truthfully.
Make sure you fill in the name and address of the attorney suing you before you bring this paperwork to the Court. Mail it to the attorney suing you right away!
Check out the guide I have drafted on the Avvo profile. This will provide more detailed instructions. If it is helpful remember to indicate that and get the guide read!
Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.
The good news is that generally you do not marry into debt, so your fiancé's debts will not become yours. However, if you do get married and he files bankruptcy, your income will be considered in determining whether he qualifies for chapter 7 and, if not, how much his chapter 13 payment will be.
I am happy to answer general questions about my practice areas on this website. . However as I'm sure you understand we do not have an attorney/client relationship. Therefore my suggestions do not constitute legal advice. I urge you to contact counsel in your jurisdiction from whom you feel you can obtain trusted information.