Long Island Divorce & Family Law Firm Established in 1976

Equitable Distribution Applies to Debt As Well

While preparing for a divorce, most people think about how the assets will be divided. Can I keep the house? Am I entitled to share in the pension? These are common questions we hear from our clients. Many people don't realize that the debts accumulated during a marriage, just like the assets, also have to be distributed. Debts linked to a specific asset (such as the mortgage on a house or a loan for the purchase of a new car) often stay with the asset. Whoever keeps the asset will typically be responsible for the debt. But other "unassociated" or unsecured debts, such as credit card debts, must also be apportioned between the parties, and hopefully, discharged as part of the divorce agreement or decree. Typically, debts accumulated during the marriage by one or both of the spouse are deemed marital and the equal obligation of the parties. There is room for deviation, however, if one party incurs debt of a nature with which it would be unfair to burden the other party (secret purchases during extramarital activities are a textbook example). These debts likely become the sole obligation of the "guilty" party. How best to protect yourself with regard to the issue of debt allocation in a divorce? Documentation. Try and gather and retain as much documentary evidence as possible regarding debts incurred during the marriage. This applies whether you claim a debt to be marital, or if you intend to argue that you should not be held responsible for the debts incurred by your spouse.

For more information and to speak with a Long Island matrimonial and family law attorney, contact us today for a free consultation.