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Am I legally obligated to pay?

Columbus, OH |
Filed under: Debt Spousal debt Tax law

I left my husband in 2006 divorced 2009. He lived in our house and was responsible for the bills of the house (mortgage, utilities, etc). We were not ever legally separated. I took our children, pets and the car with the payment and rented a house. I was responsible for the bills of the rented house. He let the house payments go & it almost went to a short sale. The bank forgave some of our second mortgage. There was some $ that was reported as income on HIS taxes. My name was never on the house. There is nothing in the decree stating that I am responsible for 'our' house. He now wants me to pay taxes on the income reported from the portion of the loan that was forgiven. Am I legally responsible to pay?

Attorney Answers 2


Since it sounds as if your name was not on the deed or the loan, the lender is looking only to him as is the IRS. Whether your decree creates an obligation between you and your ex-husband is going to be determined by the terms of the decree.

Your decree should clearly state who is responsible for the house and the mortgage, how the equity is divided and the time frame to refinance. It may also contain a hold harmless clause.

I recommend that first, you not make any payment to your ex-husband until and unless you are advised to do so by an attorney with a clear understanding of why and or you have a court order to do so.

Second, I recommend that you take your decree and seek a legal consultation with a reputable family law attorney in your area. You should contact the attorney that represented you in the divorce in 2009. Many times attorney's who represented you in the initial matter will take your call and answer some questions without charge. They are familiar with the case and more versed in what transpired. If you did not have an attorney in the original action, then seek a consultation with counsel. Getting good solid advice will help you understand your current duties and obligations if any and help put aside any concerns.

Third, stop taking calls from your ex. Let them go to voice mail. You do not need to engage in dialogue until and unless you are ready to do so. That should be after you have reviewed your decree with counsel.

Good Luck.

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4 lawyers agree


I agree with most of what my colleague has written.

I wish to caution you about not taking his phone calls, as you have children together and you must continue to foster their mutual relationship.

I would say that you should rather not discuss the matter of the taxes and income with him over the phone. Just have him e-mail his proposal and review it, the deed, the loan documents, your separation agreement and your deceree with your attorney.

Good luck

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2 lawyers agree


Loretta Marie Helfrich

Loretta Marie Helfrich


Todd you are correct. I overlooked the issue of contact with childre. Thank you for commenting.

Todd Bruce Kotler

Todd Bruce Kotler


Thanks Loretta!

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