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Wage Garnishments in Community Property States

Did you know that it’s possible to garnish the wages of someone other than the debtor?  Kazlow Fields (through its network of local attorneys) has successfully garnished the wages of non-debtor spouses in certain community property states.

By way of example, if a carrier obtains a civil judgment against a dishonest employee pursuant to a loss suffered on a crime policy, the employee’s spouse is typically not a co-debtor on the judgment. These judgments are often difficult to enforce as the principal usually has a criminal record and may find it difficult to find employment.

In community property states such as California, Louisiana, Washington, and Wisconsin, the wages of the judgment debtor’s spouse may be attachable even though the spouse is not a judgment debtor. This is because community property states allow assets acquired during the marriage to be used by creditors to satisfy a judgment. This includes income earned by the non-debtor spouse.

Some states have very specific rules as to when community property, including wages, can be used to satisfy a debt incurred by only one spouse.  By way of example, see §§ 910-916 of the California Family Code.

If you have questions about when you might be able to use community property laws to garnish the wages of someone other than the debtor, feel free to contact us.

Submitted by: Megan Morrissette