Debt Collection, Garnishment, Repossession

questions & answers

Question: If a couple is separated and both are named as defendants on a civil suit, and only one spouse is served, is the other spouse still responsible?

Answer:

In Arizona, all debts incurred during marriage are community debts.  The creditor has a right to collect from either individual in the marriage. To answer your specific question, if the civil suit is based on a community debt or obligation, both parties can be sued.  You did not state whether you had a court order granting you a "legal separation" or if you and your husband were simply living apart.  If you have a legal separation, then all debts and personal obligations incurred after the date the court signs the separation decree are the debts of the individual.  If you are not legally separated, the plaintiff in the lawsuit will argue that serving one of you is adequate service for both of you.  If this suit is based on an auto accident or a claim on your homeowners insurance, the insurance company should provide you with an attorney.  You may want to discuss the specifics of your situation with an attorney.  There are 3 programs in Arizona that you can use to get some inexpensive legal advice and guidance.  One is the Modest Means Program.  If you are financially qualified for the program, for a $75 fee, Modest Means offers a one hour consult with an attorney.  If you need additional help and the attorney agrees to take your case, the fee charged will not exceed $75 per hour.  The telephone number is (866)637-5341.  Both the Maricopa and Pima County Bar Associations have lawyer referral programs that offer a 30 minute consult with an experienced attorney.  Maricopa County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consult for a fee of $40.  The telephone number is (602) 257-4434.  Pima County's Lawyer Referral Service offers a 30 minute consultation for a fee of $35.  The telephone number is (520) 623-4625.

QUESTIONS

  • If a couple is separated and both are named as defendants on a civil suit, and only one spouse is served, is the other spouse still responsible?

STORIES

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OTHER LEGAL RESOURCES

  • State Bar of Arizona
    www.azbar.org
  • Maricopa County Bar
    www.maricopabar.org
    Referral number 602-257-4434
  • Pima County Bar
    www.pimacountybar.org
    Referral number 520-623-4625
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-7233
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