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Is my separated wife entitled to half of my federal or state tax return?

Camden, NJ |

we owe a relative close to 3,000 dollars. she doesnt work and the only income is mine and my income tax return is about 6,800 dollars. she expects me to give her half of the income tax and not have to pay any part of what we owe to the relative. she expects that to come out of my part of the income tax. no divorce papers have been filed by me or as far as i know, by her, but supposedly she has talked to a lawyer that has told her that she is entitled to half of my income tax. is she entitled to half my income tax and if so, does it come before or after we pay our bills? This in the state of NJ.

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Attorney answers 4


New Jersey is an "equitable property" state. This means that all marital property acquired during the marriage should be divided equally, unless the court finds that equal division would be unjust. This is not really a tax question, but a family law question. You need to see a family law attorney to determine your marital rights.

THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mr. Smith is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in Los Angeles County. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court. His phone number is 323-292-4116 or his email address is


You are in an equitable, rather than a community property state. This is a family law rather than a tax question and you should see a family law attorney to address this issue. Also repost this question to the family law area.

Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.


She may be entitled to half if there is equitable distribution during a divorce. Although, as you claim, she "did not work", chances are that she provided services by taking care of the children (if applicable) or the house. As such, her entitlement to the said funds is not necessarily inappropriate.

The debt can be legally satisfied from the income tax return.

Each case is different and you are advised to seek personal counseling with an attorney in order to get more detailed advice.



Both the tax refund and the debt are joint property subject to equitable distribution. So, yes, your wife is entitled to a share of the refund and is also jointly responsible for the debt. Once you are having these sorts of disputes it's probably in your interest to file for divorce sooner rather than later.

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