If I Owe Back Alimony and I’m Remarried, Can my Ex Take my New Spouse’s Property or Money?

You divorced a few years back, and you’ve moved on with your life and remarried. Good for you.

Now, you’ve run across some hard times (e.g., lost a job, got injured) and you’re behind on your alimony.

Usually, this is a problem with an easy fix: you pay a bit more over time until you’re caught up. It’s not ideal, but it’s pretty straightforward.

The complication you face is your new spouse. How might this back alimony affect her/him? Can your ex take your new spouse’s money or property?

Put more directly: can your ex raid your new spouse’s bank account, take your new spouse’s tax return, or put a lien on your new spouse’s home?

And the Answer Is?

The answer is, let’s say, nuanced.

One thing is pretty much a lock: if your name is not on your new spouse’s asset (e.g., car, home, bank account, etc.), then your ex can’t get to it.

So, for example, if you live in a home with your new spouse and you’re not on the mortgage or the title, then you really don’t have anything to worry about.

Likewise, if you don’t share bank accounts with your new spouse, there’s not much of a way for your ex to get at the bank accounts.

Oh, and your ex can’t garnish your new spouse’s wages. Yours, yes, your new spouse’s, no.

When It Gets Complicated

When this get complicated is if your name is one your new spouse’s assets.

For instance, if you and your new spouse buy a home together, that asset is half yours, which means your half is open to your ex putting a lien on it in order to secure payment.

Same for really any other asset you have your name on. Bank accounts, investments, cars, tax returns (there’s a form your new spouse can fill out to keep her portion of the tax return, but it’s a pain and things take a long time to sort out because it’s the IRS), etc. All these things can be liened, taken, or garnished if your ex gets a judgment against you.

Because of this, my rule of thumb is: unless you want to put your new spouse’s money and assets at risk, keep things separate.

This is not an ideal solution, I realize.

In fact, it’s so not ideal that almost no one does it. Just realize that if you hold assets and monies jointly with your new spouse, you are potentially putting your new spouse’s stuff at risk.

Easiest Solution

Of course, the easiest solution is to keep current on your alimony. But, if you think you may get behind and you want to keep your new spouse 100% safe, hold all assets and monies separately.

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