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Suffolk County Family Law Blog

Am I liable for my spouse’s credit card debt after divorce?

Dividing property is one the primary components of every divorce. The law requires that all divorcing couples divide their marital property fairly, including both assets and liabilities. This is often a confusing process for spouses trying to plan for a safe and effective transition out of a marriage.

If you worry that your spouse's credit card debt may leave with you in divorce, you must consider the nature of the debt itself. If a credit card is taken out in your name, or if it is a joint account, then the divorce actually has very little to do with your liability. The lender is usually more concerned with who's names are signed for the debt and less with those individual's relationship to each other. If you want to avoid these debts coming back to haunt you, you need to make sure that your name is taken off them.

What to do if fighting over the house in a divorce

Divorce is often full of contention. Even those who may have more amicable relationships are unlikely to agree upon everything. Regardless of the circumstances, a common source of argument is over who gets to keep the house.

What do you do when you both want it? While every situation is different, here are a few points to consider to help you determine the right solution.

Don't forfeit your rights for a quick divorce

Many spouses make unwise emotional decisions when they realize that their marriage is crumbling. Of course, few people ever make it through a divorce without making a number of compromised choices, but some place their future security at risk needlessly. This is especially true in marriages that hold significant assets.

If you are considering divorce, or if you've already rushed over the cliff, be sure that you seek out experienced, professional legal counsel. You certainly don't want to agree to divorce terms that place you at a disadvantage or miss out on important opportunities in your rush to exit the relationship.

Addressing unpaid spousal support issues

After your divorce finalizes, you may face difficulty getting your ex-spouse to pay you the spousal support you deserve, even if you have a court order demanding it. This is often a difficult situation to navigate, because many of the options available require time and money to pursue, both of which may be in short supply. However, that doesn't mean you're out of options just yet. An experienced attorney can determine what available methods may fit your needs best.

You may begin by reaching out to your ex in an informal setting and assessing his or her justifications for failing to pay spousal support. In some cases, a spouse who owes spousal support falls on hard times and simply cannot pay everything owed, so he or she chooses radio silence. This is not a wise approach, but is still a surprisingly common one. In some cases, offering empathy for the other spouse's difficulties may give them relief enough to begin working off the debt and get you back on track.

Are prenups a good idea for second marriages?

Divorce does not equal the end of a person's love life. A report from CNBC found that in 2013, 40 percent of people who married were marrying for the second time. 

Regardless of which marriage you are on, it is always a good idea to secure a solid prenuptial agreement first. This document is arguably even more important for a second marriage than the first. However, many spouses still forgo prenups because they assume the union will last forever. It is vital for both parties to remain practical and get a prenup prior to a second marriage.

Can I take money out of a joint checking account?

When you face divorce as the spouse who is not the primary income earner in your household, you may have a great deal of confusion or concern about how you should proceed in the divorce process. Even if you and your spouse enjoy a comfortable life, you may not know how to access all your assets, or even what all you have. Similarly, you may not known how to proceed without compromising your priorities in the divorce itself.

These are very reasonable concerns, which fortunately have practical solutions. In many cases, an experienced attorney can help you plan for your divorce and identify what assets you can plan to access various points in the process. In many cases, it is useful to obtain an Automatic Temporary Restraining Order (ATRO) so that your spouse cannot empty your accounts and divert resources from the household as easily.

Former senator's wife faces tough custody battle ahead

A former senator's wife is seeking divorce from him, while he contends that she presents a danger to their children after she allegedly wielded a shotgun during a domestic conflict not even a month ago, on Sept. 30, 2017. While the details of the story remain murky, the incident serves as a strong reminder that things can get exceptionally complicated when parents with complex or significant assets face the prospect of divorce.

The former senator contends that his wife poses a threat to herself and their children, and he is seeking full custody. However, attorneys representing the wife claim that the entire incident is fabricated to maintain control of the divorce and secure custody of the children. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the conflict clearly demonstrates the complexities of divorce when stakes get high.

Steps to take when getting a postnuptial agreement

Although divorce happens in every state, New York has a relatively low divorce rate when compared to other states. In fact, an article in Business Insider found that New York City itself had the lowest rate of divorce out of any major metropolitan city in the United States.

While most couples familiarize themselves with prenuptial agreements prior to the marriage, most people remain unaware of postnuptial agreements. Such agreements serve the same function as prenups, except a couple obtains one after they are already married. There are a variety of circumstances where couples realize they require an agreement, and it is important for them to go through the process properly so a court recognizes the agreement in the event of a divorce. 

Protect your medical practice with a prenuptial agreement

If you are a physician with your own practice, a divorce could threaten to dismantle everything you've built. If you fail to create protections for your practice ahead of time, you could face the unpleasant or unfeasible task of attempting to keep the practice afloat in the face of divorce obligations. Fortunately, with proper preparation, you can protect your practice from divorce, if you act quickly.

The most widely preferred way to protect any business from being subject to property division as marital property in a divorce is through a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding document that allows both spouses to classify certain property or even future property as personal and not marital. This means that even if you do not yet have a practice, but plan to build one once you get through medical school or residency, you can protect your future practice from a potential divorce.

Billionaire's son's divorce may mean selling of art collection

High-asset divorces often come with complications that less affluent marriages and divorces never even consider. Such is the plight of Robert Soros, the son of billionaire George Soros, who is currently negotiating over an art collection with his spouse. If the couple cannot come to a fair agreement about the value of several pieces of art, a judge suggests that they may have to sell them.

Art, unlike many other tangible assets, is very difficult to value, and the value of some pieces may vary significantly depending on who is appraising it. In the case of Soros's divorce, his wife wishes to keep several pieces from the collection, but if they cannot agree on the value of these pieces, the court may force them to sell the art and split the proceeds.

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