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In Divorce And Other Family Law Matters

Division of debts in a divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2020 | Firm News |

While most New York residents probably know that they are responsible for any credit card debt in their name, what they do not realize is that this does not change even after a divorce. It doesn’t matter if someone else contributed or caused the debt—the person liable is the one who’s name it is under. It does not even matter if the divorcing couple has decided something else. This is why it is sometimes said that is easier to divorce one’s spouse than it is to divorce one’s creditors.

Even though the circumstances leading to everyone’s divorce are different, division of debts is rarely straightforward. If the debt was incurred in order to pay for household items, the court might order one spouse to pay for a portion of it, even if they are not contractually liable for it. Courts also consider the length of the separation and agreements the couple has come to regarding the debt. While the judge may make the determination to pay differently from what the contractual obligation is, it does not change the actual contract with the creditors. This means creditors can sue the contractually obligated person to recover the debt. Additionally, a decree should include indemnification clauses stating the consequences of nonpayment.

If the judge orders it, an ex can be responsible for paying their former spouse’s debt. Since this is in the divorce decree, the obligation to pay becomes legally binding. Once again, it is important to note that this does not change the contract—the creditor is not swayed by the divorce decree. What can be done is to pursue the matter in court later on. It is also not easy to remove oneself from the account if there are outstanding balances on it. One way might be for the couple to transfer debts to their own accounts through balance transfers.

While couples may try their best to divorce amicably and make property division decisions, including who gets the debts, in the most cordial way possible, this is not always possible. With emotions running high, people are unable to express themselves and may get the raw end of the deal. It might be helpful to consult an experienced attorney to advocate on one’s behalf to achieve the best possible outcome in one’s divorce.