can the they legally come after the wife for payments if she did not sign on the loan
You do not indicate whether you are the wife or the husband. The question is not whether the creditor can come after the wife. The answer is of course they can. The question is what the wife wishes to do about it.
If the marriage is still intact, the husband and wife need to have a frank and honest discussion about this and why it took place. If both parties agree, it may be possible for the husband and wife to both have a talk with the creditor and put this solely in husband's name as he is the one who took out the debt.
If the husband is not willing to accept responsibility, the wife has a choice to make. The wife can deny liability for the debt. However, there is a good possibility that the creditor may try to pursue criminal charges against the husband for engaging in fraud. It is a crime to do what the husband has done if the facts are as alleged.
If the wife does not want the husband prosecuted, then the wife is essentially accepting responsibility for the debt. If the wife doesn't like either of these options, she can continue to do nothing and hope that the creditor does not sue her. If a suit does arise, the only way wife will be able to defend is to claim that the husband forged her signature. This will require money in legal fees and to secure a handwriting expert. Depending on the loan balance, it may be worth the expenditure of funds. However, it may make more sense to resolve the debt.
The creditor does not necessarily care where the money is coming from. I would suggest giving the husband an ultimatum of sorts - either this gets resolved or the wife files a police report (which she will need) and then she can complete a fraud affidavit with the creditor. It will then be up to the creditor to pursue the husband or not. The wife should not make this ultimatum if she is not prepared to follow through with the consequences.
If you are the husband - this was a creepy thing to do - maybe you had your reasons but I don't see that they justified you engaging in criminal activity. Make it right. If you don't, then I would encourage your wife to file criminal charges against you along with the creditor and you need to accept whatever the consequences of that may be, including divorce if your wife goes that route.
I would recommend that you seek legal advice in your state. go to NACA.net and search for an attorney experienced in debt collection cases.
In Pennsylvania, the general rule is that each spouse is responsible for his or her own debts only, unless the debts are incurred in behalf of the marital estate. In other words, if both spouses or the family unit benefit from the debt, both may be held to be responsible. (Fortunately, PA is a common law state and offers more protection for innocent spouses than community property states.) If the debt was secured by joint property, it raises other issues.
You should discuss the matter with an attorney as soon as possible.
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I agree with Mr. Mueller.I have seen creditors bring law suits against the signing and non-signing spouse recently on the theory of Unjust Enrichment where the creditor claims that the non-signing spouse benefitted in some respect from the loan.These types of claims are usually difficult to prove against the non signing spouse but I think the debt collection attorneys may think that no answer to their Complaint will be filed and a Judgement can be entered against BOTH spouses.This is a somewhat cynical way,in some cases,of debt collectors attempting to get around the exemptions ithat married couples have in Pennsylvania which prevent execution or sale of marital property where only one spouse legally owes the debt.If you are confronted with such a law suit in the future contact an attorney immediately.
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