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Debts & Divorce FAQ

Posted by Sunshine, Isaacson & Hecht LLP on May 14th, 2020

The Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht, LLP has extensive experience representing clients in divorce cases. Our team understands that when you’re getting a divorce, you have a variety of major issues on your mind. One big question you’re asking is likely, “What will my financial situation look like when this is all over?”

This can be an even more serious question when there are major debts involved. That’s why we’re focusing today’s blog post on answering our clients’ biggest questions about debts and divorce.

How are debts typically divided in a New York divorce?

Essentially, this will all come down to what the judge thinks is fair. However, we can say that the vast majority of the time, the judge is going to split your debts 50/50 unless there’s a good reason not to.  If your spouse accumulated debt prior to commencing a divorce, it is likely that you will be sharing it.

What would qualify as a major reason not to split our debts 50/50?

A judge would be much less likely to split your debts 50/50 if the debts came about in a way that clearly only benefitted one of the pair. For example, if a spouse got deep into debt by gambling in Atlantic City, that person would most likely have to bear more of that burden of the debt that resulted from that.  Even if there is other debt not associated with the gambling, the argument could be made that you wouldn’t have a large credit card balance had all of that other money not been lost on gambling.  Judges do their best to be fair and equitable, but your attorney needs to make the right argument.

What about student loans?

If your student loans were taken out before your marriage, they will likely remain the responsibility of the party who took them out. However, if you took out student loans during your marriage, the judge may look at you furthering your education as an endeavor for the betterment of the entire family and that could possibly be divided 50/50.  Typically we are able to negotiate that each party keeps their own student debt by arguing that our client should benefit from the debt if they have to pay for it post-divorce; i.e. the debt created more income not just for the spouse, but for them both – it was an investment for the family.

Can my spouse and I decide how to divide our debts outside of court?

Absolutely.  If you, your spouse, and your attorneys can come to a mutual agreement about how to divide your debts outside of court, that is acceptable and can save you the time and effort of litigating another matter in the courtroom. However, many couples find that they simply cannot reach an agreement on their own.  Debt is one of the most difficult things to resolve.  In our experience, people are much more likely to agree to take fewer assets, than to take extra debt.

Who can represent me in my divorce?

If you need help with divorce, property and debt division, or any other family law matter, the Sunshine Isaacson & Hecht team would be happy to help. Contact us through our website to get started.

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