Innocent Spouse v Ex-Spouse

Today TaxMama hears from Betty in Ridgland, MS, who’s upset. “My ex-husband owes me back child support and his present wife has filed a tax relief form called “injured spouse”. If I receive this check for my back child support and she is granted this “relief”, where do I stand on getting my back child support. I fight one way to get and still always lose. HELP.”


Hi Betty,

The injured spouse relief is only for her to get the part of the refund that applies to her earnings.

IRS will still grab any of HIS refund and pass that along to you.

I wish I could come up with some magic and easy way to make a deadbeat care about his responsibilities. But I know of no way.

One thing I did learn when a client had a similar issue. Her ex owed her a bunch of money and announced that he would not pay her any more, after she inherited some money.

He also threatened that, if she took him to court to collect, he’d insist on counter-suing to get the support reduced. One attorney gave her this very interesting piece of advice.

Do nothing. Wait until the children are both past 18. Let him not pay you for the entire period. Once the obligation runs out, it’s too late for him to get the monthly child support reduced.

BUT the entire unpaid obligation is still outstanding. So, if you can manage to wait him out, until then, you can just take collections actions, like attaching his wages, grabbing his car, putting a lien against his home,…etc.

Since he’s not going to pay you reliably anyway, it’s much cheaper to handle it this way, than to pay many thousands of dollars to a divorce lawyer – and potentially end up having a judge cut his future obligation because of the costs to support his new family.

He’ll owe you a ton of money later – and at that time, it will be worthwhile to get an attorney or the district attorney, to help you collect.

Now, this was for California. I don’t know how that works for MS. Check with an attorney in your state.

So, remember, you’ll find answers to questions about divorce and all kinds of tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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