Ifa $5000 judgement has been awarded against me and I recently got married, can they take my husband’s tax refund?

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Ifa $5000 judgement has been awarded against me and I recently got married, can they take my husband’s tax refund?

My new husband had nothing to do with my prior debt. We filed our taxes jointly. Is he responsible for paying my judgement? Will they take his tax return money towards a debt he did not incur?

Asked on February 19, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are not liable for this, your spouse's, debt.  First of all, it was incurred prior to your marriage.  Even if it wasn't, since you are not in a community property state, you did not specifically agree to be bound for its prepayment, and it was not incurred for the benefit of the household (i.e.a necessary expense such as a medical bill), you would also bear no responsiblity for it.  Additionally, a creditor can't take an actual refund.  The refund is sent directly to the taxpayer and a creditor (other than the government itself) cannot intercept such monies.  However, once a debtor does receive it and deposit it into a bank account, then a creditor with a valid judgement, can garnish such funds.  In fact, they can garnish any other non-exempt funds has well.  This also includes any money held in a joint bank account.  Accordingly, you should take your name of of any such account and keep all of your finances separate from your husband's.


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