Can a state come after me for back child support that my girlfriend owes if we get married?

Asked about 4 years ago - Poway, CA

We want to get married but my girlfriend owes back child support from a previous marriage. we opened a joint account not to long ago and the state took money from it and deducting from her paycheck. . so we closed that. please keep in mind we were always making monthly payments but since they did that we stopped sending the payments and them just garnish her check. well we want to get married but i am afraid they will come after me. is there a way we can avoid that?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Zephyr Savoy Hill

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . They cannot come after you because you do not owe the debt. Getting married doesn't change that. However, as you have learned you need to be careful with what you hold jointly. I would suggest you keep things separate and understand they will continue to hound your "wife" and you may feel compelled to pay the debt for her.

    They will come after her driver's license, her business license, your joint bank accounts, your joint tax refunds, etc.

    Best regards,

  2. Rebekah Ryan Main

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    Answered . Keep your finances separate. Also keep in mind that your new wife will have a one half community interest in anything that you acquire after marriage that is defined as community property in the Family Code. This means that if you buy a house together, her half can be attached, etc. For this reason, see an attorney about drafting a prenup agreement (and about how to buy stuff after you’re married) that will control how your property is characterized and protect what you can protect from her debt.

    Best of luck to you.

    This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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