In 2006, Ariane divorced her husband, who, before and during their marriage, had racked up over $74,000 in tax debt to the IRS. After their divorce, her ex-husband’s whereabouts became completely unknown, so the IRS went after her for the entire debt.
At the time of the divorce, her attorney neglected to ask her if there was any tax debt in the union, although in the state of California, “when you divorce someone… you don’t divorce the tax debt,” according to Ariane. In the years following the divorce, Ariane tried and failed to deal with the IRS, and she was consistently denied her Federal Tax Refund. This was especially challenging to her, as she was working to put her two children through school, and her ex-husband did not pay any child support. “He fell off the map,” she recalled. She attempted to utilize the resources of Legal Self-Help at the San Francisco Superior Court, but was disappointed with the results. “They want you to stand in line for an hour for someone to tell you what to do” she recounts, “it’s an overwhelming in a place where you’re already frustrated.”
She brought her case to Jeff, one of Open Door Legal’s staff attorneys. Jeff performed legal research on innocent spouse laws, and helped her document how she had been paying his tax debt for years. He presented this to the court, and was then able to bring on board another attorney, with whom Ariane worked to put together another document saying that she completed her contribution.
Without the aid of Open Door Legal, she would not have been able to prepare the paperwork necessary to go to court and remove her ex-husband’s tax debt. Jeff helped Ariane navigate the challenging arena of legal writing, where one misplaced word can cause one to lose his or her case. “Jeff knows what he’s doing,” Ariane commented. In January 2014, Ariane received a court judgment legally freeing her from her ex-husband’s tax debt. She was thrilled with the outcome of her case.
Client’s name and/or photo was changed at her request to protect her identity.