Question #239:Hi, I live in NYS. My wife and I have been married for 23 years and we started legal separation proceeding in the past month (Nov 14th). We use the same credit cards, checking account etc. If after Nov 14th she goes out and purchases items (computer, shoes), takes excessive money out of the bank account, may I responsible for 50% of these costs? These items are not needed for home etc.

If you have already commenced legal proceedings for separation in court, I strongly recommend that you terminate all joint accounts, be they bank accounts, credit accounts or any other accounts where you have financial exposure.
Cancel all accounts upon which you are jointly liable.
Divide up the monies in the bank accounts and checking accounts and open SEPARATE banking accounts and credit accounts for each of you.
You do not want to have to come home one day and discover that your bank account has been emptied or your credit card is showing an unusually large charge made by your spouse for which you are personally liable. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This should be done immediately.

If you living in the New York City metropolitan area, I strongly suggest you call me at 212-370-1660
to arrange for a meeting to discuss mediating your separation and Divorce.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions

Question #168:My husband has asked for a divorce. After some significant damage to my credit due to my ex’s financial irresponsibility, I am seeking a legal separation until the divorce is final (which may be a while). I understand that the legal separation will not remove my name from accounts, but can I use the legal separation to prevent or remove missed payments and defaults from hurting my credit further? The large majority of our debt is my husband’s debt but some of it is in my name. If the legal separation stipulates he is responsible for the debt, regardless of whose name is on the account (credit cards mainly), can I still be held responsible for payments that he misses or makes late to accounts that are in my name? Will a legal separation do me any good? Is it worth paying the extra legal fees for the separation? Thank you for your help! [Continuation of previous Question] Thank you for the information, but I have just one more question for you. I understand that my name will not be removed from the loan and credit cards, and when my husband pays the payments late or not at all it will go on my credit unless I pay the payments myself. My question is can I take a legal document i.e. legal separation or divorce decree that states I am not responsible or liable for the debt to the credit bureaus and have the late or missed payments removed from my credit report? Is there any way to protect my credit without having to just pay for everything my self? I was told the only way to truly protect my credit is to pay off the debts myself and then sue my husband to be reimbursed the money. Is that true? Thank you for your time!!!

The first thing you should do is to terminate all mutual credit card and bank accounts that you have with your spouse, if you have not already done so. You are correct in seeking a legal separation and divorce in order to prevent any additional claims against you for the debts of your husband. Until you have such legal separation and divorce, you may still have some financial exposure for his debts. Unfortunately, however, those debts to which you are jointly and severally liable on, will not be discharged against you simply because you enter into a Separation Agreement now. The credit card companies or banks to which the debts are owed will generally not let you off, but it does not hurt to communicate with them and see if you can work something out with them.

Unfortunately, the Separation Agreement you entered into with your
spouse is not binding on the credit card companies. You remain liable to them
for the outstanding debt despite your Agreement. All you can do is pay the debt
when it comes due and sue your spouse for his share.
Good luck!
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions

Question #63: I have been married for 4 years in New York. 2 months ago my husband left me he is now living with his parents. I am curious about how you go about filing for a legal separation and then a Divorce. Also, I have student loans that were acquired before the marriage is he responsible for those payments? We also have a car loan and several credit cards that are primarily in my name with him as a cosigner. We have called the credit card companies to see if we can change the bill to his name and they will not do it. He has tried to get a loan in his name to consolidate these bills but they will not give it to him because of bad credit. What can I do so that I am not left with all of the debt? Also if I were to find out that he was with another woman that is adultery and how is that different from abandonment?

Any debts you incurred prior to the marriage are your individual debts; thus the student loans are your individual liability. If you are located in the NYC metropolitan area please call me at 212-370-1660 to discuss mediating your divorce. The issues you raise regarding outstanding liabilities and grounds for divorce can be resolved in mediation.
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions