As experienced divorce attorneys on Long Island, we know that after you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it is likely that you will have many conversations regarding important topics within your marriage, including property allocation, child support and custody, and spousal maintenance. In my many years of practice, I have found that, on some occasions, the finances of the couple jointly, and the parties individually, can be left out of those conversations. The topic of your finances is a vital component of your Long Island divorce, and needs to be addressed thoroughly in order to reach an equitable settlement for both of you.
For most couples, there is little to no association between your divorce and running a credit check. However, in our law firm, it is standard practice to request a credit report from our clients. In a majority of marriages, each spouse has access to the personal information of the other, including birth dates and social security numbers. Although most of our clients believe their spouse wouldn’t lash out in anger, for some, running a credit check reveals that their spouse has opened accounts or credit cards in their name without their knowledge. These accounts may have been opened during the course of your marriage, right before the divorce action for divorce was filed, or even after you filed for divorce, all without your knowledge. Regardless of the time frame, it is very important that you have a clear picture of any and all credit accounts, loans or other debts currently existing in your name.
One of the first things I advise my clients to do upon commencing their divorce is to open and maintain their own bank accounts and credit cards. For some, especially those ending long-term marriages, this may be the first separate account they’ve held in decades. This is a necessary step, however, in beginning to build credit in your own name. While this may be a daunting task for some, specifically for the “less monied spouse,” it is a very important step in setting yourself up for success in your post-divorce life. Additionally, any separate accounts that are funded solely from your own earnings will likely be considered separate property and will not be subject to equitable distribution in your divorce.
While the trend for most recently married couples is to maintain separate accounts, if you and your spouse have any joint accounts or credit cards, you and your spouse should have a serious discussion about closing them at the commencement of your divorce. However, in some situations, you may decide that keeping a joint account is what works best for your family. Many clients continue to maintain a joint account during the pendency of their divorce in order to pay any marital bills, such as a mortgage or the homeowners insurance associated with the marital residence. The decision regarding maintaining a joint account must be carefully thought out and must be done with a certain sense of cooperation between you and your spouse. If the two of you can work together during the pendency of your divorce, then perhaps maintaining a joint account to pay bills is an option for you. However, if this does not reflect your situation, it is best to close any and all joint accounts at the commencement of your divorce.
Another crucial piece of advice we always give our clients is to continue to pay the marital bills. There are many spouses out there who, during the pendency of their divorce, are so hurt and angry, they decide that they will no longer pay marital bills. Unfortunately, this is not the way the law works, and, you will only hurt yourself in the long run. In many marriages, a majority, if not all, of the marital bills are in both your and your spouse’s name and thus, not making the required payments will hurt both of your credit scores. While this is usually deterrent enough to prevent shirking marital obligations, inevitably clients will tell me that their spouse has stopped paying marital bills. This typically results in a motion being filed, causing an increase in legal fees that could have easily been avoided. Again, we always advise our clients to continue to pay any and all martial bills, including debts and/or other liabilities, until otherwise ordered by the court.
Questions About Finances During Your Long Island Divorce? Contact Us
If you have further questions regarding your finances during the pendency of your Long Island Divorce, please call our Long Island divorce and family law firm at 631-923-1910 to speak with one of our experienced divorce and family law attorneys.
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