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My wife has a student loan from before we were married. Can they garnish my wages or our joint bank account.

Chicago, IL |

We live in illinois.
We offered a small monthly payment (what we can afford) and they refused it and threatened court. What are we looking at? Can they garnish my wages. Will it help if I take her name off of our joint account? She is a stay at home mom and no funds are ever added to the account from her.
Also does it matter if we file taxes jointly or seperately?

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Attorney answers 2


Your wife's wages can be garnished but not yours. Your joint account can also be garnished but if you have an account solely in your name it cannot. If you are concerned about this, then do not put a lot of money into a joint account. Pay bills from an account held only in your name. Nothing can be garnished unless and until there is a judgment against your wife. If your wife is sued, do not ignore the summons. She should go to court and try to enter into an installment order. An installment order would prevent garnishment, provided the terms of the order are complied with.



Thank you for your quick response Judy! Would it help to remove her name from our joint account? You said an installment order would prevent garnishment but with my wife not working what would be garnished? Thanks for your help!

Judy A. Goldstein

Judy A. Goldstein


You asked if wages could be garnished. You did not mention your wife is not working. Open a new account rather than removing your wife's name from the joint account. Go to another bank and open a new account. If the debt is sizeable, it would be worth it to you to consult with a lawyer.


You are not liable on the student loan and therefore your wages cannot be garnished. Your wife if she had a judgment entered against her and if she was working could be garnished. In addition a joint bank account could be frozen and money levied by the creditor. If you file taxes together and the loan is in significant default such that the government takes it over then yes they can take your tax refund to apply it to the student loan that was defaulted. I would recommend you keep your finances separate as well and file taxes separately. If possible she needs to work out a payment arrangement with the student loan lender that is viable and affordable.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Illinois. Responses are answers to general legal questions and the receiver of such question should consult a local attorney for specific answers to questions.

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