Many people live beyond their means. And, that’s not difficult to do in New Jersey where, while you often get what you pay for, you most certainly have to pay a lot for it in the Garden State. So, it stands to reason that when a married couple decides to go their separate ways, there is usually plenty of debt to divide.
NJ divorce laws requires both assets and debt to be “equitably distributed” in the event of a divorce. However, it’s important to understand that, in this case, “equitable” does not mean “equal.” The law takes several things into consideration when it comes to dividing joint debt such as car loans, credit card bills, college loans, other lines of credit and even mortgages.
Common Sense Usually Prevails When the Debt Has Been Racked Up by Extramarital AffairsWith a savvy lawyer on your side, it can often be proven that money spent on paramours isn’t “marital debt.”
It’s not unusual for mounting debt and other financial struggles to be the impetus for divorce. If you’ve been arguing about money for what seems like forever, it’s probable that figuring out how to divide the debt you’ve accumulated now — while you are on opposite sides of the divorce table — will seem impossible.
That’s where a savvy divorce lawyer with considerable experience representing clients with both significant assets and debts can come in very handy. You need to choose an attorney who will not only fight for your rights and to protect your legal interests, but who stays ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-changing divorce laws in NJ.
Who Is Responsible for the Debt? That’s really the issue at hand that must be reviewed so equitable debt distribution can be completed. Generally speaking, any debt incurred during the marriage is considered “marital debt” and should be split based on a number of concerns such as each spouse’s income, ability to earn a living, living expenses, etc.
Here are some sticking points when dividing debt at the divorce table:
- If one person has a gambling or shopping problem, debts accumulated need to be divided based on those concerns
- If bills were amassed because of affairs or other “extracurricular activities,” the other spouse shouldn’t have to pay those debts
- If your ex is contending that you spent the money so you should be responsible for the debt, but you say the money was spent on the children or marital home. In this case, you may have technically “signed” for the debt, but the entire family benefited from it. (This could be a family vacation or even simply weekly food bills.)
If you are seeking a divorce, don’t go it alone — especially when it comes to dividing debt and assets. There are far too many loopholes that can come back to haunt you if you aren’t careful. A knowledgeable divorce attorney can fight to make sure you don’t have to assume debt you didn’t create as well as making sure debts relating to “customary family expenses” are dividing equitably.
Contact Ron Graziano of divorce law firm Graziano & Flynn, P.C. in Cherry Hill today for a consultation about your personal situation. No two cases are alike. Don’t listen to friends and family. Get the facts and make sure you have a seasoned divorce lawyer on your side of the negotiation table. The decision you make today will be in place for a long time to come.