Collections Law/Old debt


Prior to my husband and I getting together he owned a house and sold it through an auction company. He did not set limits on what to sell it as and he ended up owing the auction company $15,495.56.
Which he made monthly payments of $100 since 2007 and since we have gotten married we have continued to make same monthly payment.
This debt is not on his credit history.
Today we get an invoice which had all the past payments and interest. We have not even been paying enough to affect the principal balance and now owe $18652.55.
Invoice stated it's a 10% interest. But since we have been married I have already found $500 worth of checks that they have cashed (I have record of this and can prove it easily) but have not included in this invoice. So I'm not sure if there is more that isn't being calculated from before our marriage.
My question is this. How can this debt really effect us? Can they come after us, and our current home? This debt was acquired by my husband, so can they only come after things in his name? Is there anything legally we can do to get out of this debt? By showing we can't afford to make any higher monthly payments, or a statue of limitation on it?
Thank you for your time and consideration.

The statute of limitations on a debt usually only starts running when you don't pay.  The payments are considered acknowledgement of the debt.  Each state has its own statute of limitation (in California it's 4 years).

The debt is your husband's debt, not yours.  However, and again this depends on which state you are it, your state may consider all the assets that you have acquired together to be subject to his debts ("community property").  Other states follow different rules.  Any property that you owned before marriage and have kept separate would not be subject to his obligation.

At this stage, about all he can do to get out of paying the debt is file for bankruptcy or stop paying.  Before you do that, you should consult someone qualified about bankruptcy and debt planning.

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Michael T. Hertz


I can answer most questions concerning bankruptcy, whether business or personal, including questions by debtors, creditors, persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcy estates, and the like. Also have expertise in tort law, French and Canadian law.


Practiced bankruptcy for 27 years in California and taught bankruptcy for three years in Maine. This included Chapters 7, 9, 11, 12 and 13 cases, representing debtors, creditors (secured and unsecured), bankruptcy trustees, creditors committees, and persons interested in purchasing assets from bankruptcies. Debtors included persons with virtually no money up to large corporations.

Inactive member of the Bar of the State of California. Nonpracticing member of the Bar of Massachusetts. Formerly member of the Maine Bar and conseil juridique in France. Certified by National Committee on Accreditation in Canada.

Georgetown Law Review; California Bankruptcy Journal; Maine Law Review; Dalhousie Law Journal; University of Toronto Law Journal.

Harvard Law School (J.D. 1970; cum laude) and Pomona College (B.A., 1967; cum laude)

Awards and Honors
Selected as a "Superlawyer" in 2005 and 2006 for Northern California.

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