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Can a judgment creditor seize a car owned jointly by a couple?

Hicksville, NY |

My wife and I own a car jointly with an outstanding loan of half the value. The car is registered in my wife's name. Can a creditor with a judgement against me seize the car?

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Attorney answers 2


How do you figure that you own half the car? Your post indicates that the car is titled in your wife's name only. In such case, then your creditor cannot touch the asset at all. If the car is titled in both names, the creditor could possibly seize the asset if the car is owned free and clear provided that the car would sell for enough to be able to compensate your wife for her share of the car.

However, according to your post, the car has a lien on it too. If the car is liened, unlikekly that the car can be seized at all.

When a judgment creditor seeks to levy (seize) assets, the sheriff has to store and sell the items. The sales do not bring in a whole lot of money and sale costs have to be paid to the sheriff. So if the car is not worth a whole lot, its not as likely to be seized and sold unless the car was solely in your name, owned free and clear and worth a good deal of money (say at least $10,000).

The fact that you have a judgment against you is worrisome for other reasons. New York allows a judgment creditor to garnish wages and levy on bank accounts. If I were you, I would get your name off of any joint bank accounts NOW. Do not bank at a big bank. If you must have a bank account, consider getting an online account (like at ally, ING Direct, or at a place like ready-debit financial).

You also need to think about resolving the judgment in some way - by either filing bankruptcy or paying by way of settlement. Of course, this depends on your circumstances. What you should do is get a consult with a bankruptcy attorney if you are considering going that route. If you don't want to or can't file bankruptcy, consider debt negotiation/settlement, either on your own or through an attorney or debt settlement company. Beware - there are lots of scammers out there so make sure that you get someone reputable. You can also try resolving this on your own through


I'm not going to ask the questions posed by my colleague and I will take your question at face value. A creditor may restrain the property via an income execution served upon the judgment enforcement officer but may not levy against said property until a turnover order has been served on all owners in title and secured creditors. Subsequent to an order of attachment the property may be sold subject to the interests of any noticed party.

I do NOT know you. I am NOT your lawyer. This answer is provided for the general public who may have similar queries. The answer provided is NOT definitive. I do NOT know all of the facts of your case and NO attorney-client relationship is established. Please do not use my answer to tell your lawyer what to do. Free advise is worth exactly what you are paying. Trust the lawyer who is charging you for his/her time and expertise. If you can no longer trust your lawyer, then hire someone else. I am always interested in new clients and business opportunities and would welcome your call or email to discuss matters further. For more information, please feel free to visit my website or schedule an appointment.

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