A New York divorce action comes with significant consequences if you are not familiar with state law. Questions regarding what will happen to your assets can be a source of anxiety when divorcing your spouse. Unfortunately, this issue often overshadows another more financially painful aspect of the separation process: division and distribution of the marital debt.
Whether your former partner ran up thousands in credit card bills or your child needed surgery that incurred a significant amount of medical debt, it is imperative to speak with a knowledgeable family law attorney about how New York equitable distribution laws can impact the outcome of your divorce.
How Does the New York Domestic Relations Law Impacts Marital Debt?
Under Section 236 of the New York Domestic Relations Law, marital property is divided equitably during a divorce action. This approach intends to ensure that any debt accrued during the marriage is shared fairly and equally, though there are a few exceptions that may affect the proportion of liability. Many divorcing couples have found themselves facing potential financial ruin by not ensuring that this step in the division of assets and debt is fair.
Determining Marital Debt from Separate Debt
Debts incurred throughout the marriage and are due at the time of the divorce filing, typically are subject to New York’s equitable distribution laws, these marital debts could include some of the following examples:
- Personal and private loans
- Student loans
- Credit card debt
- Medical debt
- Outstanding lines of credit
If one or both parties cannot settle on the matter, the court will do so for them by taking into account several factors, including those below:
How Much a Spouse Contributed to Their Household
Contributions to a marital household involve more than health benefits and wages earned to support the cost of living. Spouses who may not have contributed financially to the household often make it possible for their partner to work because they stayed home and took care of raising their children, maintaining the property, and other responsibilities. The court may determine they have less debt accountability as a result.
Financial Information for Each Spouse
While many debts accrued during your marriage are considered marital property under New York law, it may not be divided equally between you and your ex-partner. If you or your spouse or financially insecure while the other is stable, a larger portion of the remaining debt may go to the more secure spouse.
Overall Spending Habits
When a court has to decide how marital debt gets equitably distributed between divorcing couples, finding patterns of fiscal irresponsibility can lead to what feels like a lopsided judgment. If you have a spouse who regularly spent money or ran up credit card debt without regard for the financial harm to your marriage, a judge may shoulder them with the majority of the debt.
The overall health and history of your marriage do play a role in how accrued debt is distributed. A good example would be a stay-at-home spouse who was never responsible for finances. A court may not expect that spouse to be liable for accrued debts either since they never had any control over how such expenses were paid. Other factors, like the length of your marriage, will also influence the judge’s decision on how your marital assets and debt are divided.
Avoid Having a Court Divide Your Marital Debts. Call Kate Ryan!
If you are considering divorce or find yourself in the midst of one that has become contentious because of marital debt, seeking the services of a reputable New York divorce attorney is a necessary decision. Attorney Katherine Ryan helps couples going through a divorce who are trying to navigate complex financial circumstances. Rated as a SuperLawyer in 2020, she and her legal team at The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., dedicate themselves to providing strong representation and a comfortable client experience in New York.
From always meeting deadlines to being available for any questions clients may have while going through the process of divorce, our law office always makes our focus on the whole client. Attorney Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Long Island. Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. today for a comprehensive evaluation of your family law issue.