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Can an old creditor go after my new husband's property for my old debt?

Sylmar, CA |

I received a notice of involuntary lien and abstract of judgment for old debt, they won the judgment in court in Aug of 2009 and I made a few payments. In Nov 2009 I lost my job and have not found a new one. The only thing I own in my name is an old Jeep. My husband has property and a vehicle in his name; can the creditor go after his assets for my old debt? If I ever find a job again I plan to resume payments, but until then I'm stuck and afraid for my husband's assets.

Also, is a joint tax return included in a lien against real property?

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Attorney answers 4


Personal property, such as refund on tax return, is not subject to an abstract of judgment, which must be filed in each county, to place a lien on the debtor's property in that county.

Cal. Code of Civil Procedure, Section 695.020(a), states: "Community property is subject to enforcement of a money judgment as provided in the Family Code.”

Cal. Family Code, Section 910, states: “Except as otherwise expressly provided by statute, the community estate is liable for a debt incurred by either spouse before or during marriage, regardless of which spouse has the management and control of the property and regardless of whether one or both spouses are parties to the debt or to a judgment for the debt.”

Under Cal. law, a money judgement of one spouse can be enforced on property of the community for debts incurred during marriage. If this was during marriage that you had this debt, then it can be enforced on your husband's assets. If before or after you married your husband, then it cannot legally be enforced against his assets. Have you considered filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, which would discharge this default judgment? If not, please consult with a Bankruptcy attorney in your area. You can use Avvo's find an attorney tab to search.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

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I thank you for your answer. Would you mind clarifying one point? You state " If before or after you married your husband, then it cannot legally be enforced against his assets." The debt was incurred and judged upon prior to our marriage. So does this mean that the house and car in his name are safe from this judgement? The before or after marriage part of the statement is confusing me, I apologize. I don't know much about Chapter 7 bankruptcy, I am afraid of damaging my husband's good credit with my bad credit and am hoping to find a job soon to start taking care of my own problems. Thank you once again for your help!

Robert Harlan Stempler

Robert Harlan Stempler


Thanks for your further question, because the law is not as clear as it could be. I'd urge you to consider discharging this old default judgment, because it can get really messy and expensive to litigate who is liable for what. Please see DISCLAIMER and my previous comments, above.


The answer depends on whether or not your name is on the title to the house. If it is, then the Abstract of Judgment recorded becomes a lien on the house. The creditor will have a hard time collecting the debt from your new husband.


I agree. The creditor should not be able to collect from the new husband.


California is a community property state, therefore, your assets and liabilities are shared by the community (you and your husband). A creditor may hold your husband liable for debts that were incurred by you, however, this determination is based upon a number of facts that would need to be discussed in further details.

If the abstract of judgment is only in your name and your husband's assets do not have your name on it, it will be difficult for the creditor to pursue his assets.

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