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How do marital property rules affect my ability to collect on a debt?

How do marital property rules affect my ability to collect on a debt?

You’ve probably heard people talk about the Marital Property Act. The Marital Property Act may affect the property which is available to a creditor to satisfy a debt obligation. Under the Marital Property Act, any obligation of either spouse may be satisfied from all marital property.

Meaning, even if one spouse was the only spouse who signed to incur the debt, the marital property of either spouse can be used to satisfy it. For example, husband obtains a debt for the purchase of his new truck, and he is the only one who signs.

Husband later defaults on the loan, and a judgment is obtained. The creditor can satisfy the debt from wife’s wages, even though she never personally signed the dotted line.

A creditor should note, however, that the debt must be “incurred in the interest of the marriage” for it to be a marital debt and opening the door for satisfaction from all the marital property. In Wisconsin, it is presumed that any debt incurred by a Wisconsin resident has been incurred in the interest of the marriage or family.

There are many other intricacies about the Marital Property Act of which a creditor should be aware. You should discuss any specific questions with your attorney.

Deanne Koll is an Attorney with Bakke Norman Law Office. You can find out more about Bakke Norman and Deanne at