Divorce Solutions

Question #207

I live in NJ with my two sons, ages 8 and 5. My husband moved out of our house nearly two years ago and rents a cheap apartment in NYC. Neither of us has filed for divorce yet nor do we have a separation agreement, though divorce is imminent. We will be married 10 years in October. He continues to support us, paying for the mortgage, bills, etc. He earns $130,000/yr, I earn $30,000/yr working part-time so I can care for the children. All of our property and bank accounts, etc. are still in both names and we pool all of our money to pay all bills, including his apt. These are my questions: 1. Neither of us had any assets when we married, however he entered the marriage with approx $80,000 in student loan debts from his undergrad and masters degrees. We paid off the debt together from our joint income (at the time I was earning more than he was). When our assets are divided at divorce, will that $80K be considered separate debt for which he’ll have to reimburse me my half? 2. Also, in terms of gaining a more favorable settlement, should I try to stay married up to the 10 year anniversary? Will this affect alimony? I’ve heard that 10 years is the least amount of time to consider permanent alimony. But I’m starting to feel anxious for closure. 3. Assuming we file in NJ (we were married in NY and lived there for five years, then five years in NJ), is it in my best interest to file based on adultery (which he committed) or desertion (I opposed the divorce and his moving out) or does it not make any difference in the settlement if he just files a no-fault? We do plan to mediate, but I’d like to know what the likely results would be in a courtroom. Thank you for any advice.

With regard to your question relating to the student loan, the answer will depend on whether the studies for which this loan was borrowed resulted in a degree and whether that degree provided your spouse with the ability to get a license to practice his profession. Thus the answer will require more in-depth analysis of the particular facts involved. With regard to your second question about extending the marriage for 10 years, 10 years has a certain ring to it which may subconsciously influence the judge’s decision regarding spousal support. However, courts today generally do not grant permanent spousal support unless there are serious health problems or other intervening factors. With regard to your third question about the grounds, adultery, or abandonment, generally the grounds do not influence the court’s decision regarding the division of marital assets but may be relevant with regard to determining child custody.

Since your spouse is living in New York and the marriage took place in New York, you may file in New York , and I strongly recommend that you call me at 212-370-160 to arrange for a meeting for us to discuss mediating your divorce. This is not something that should be left to self-help and requires experienced, legal counsel to make sure that is done properly and you can get on with your lives without worrying that it will come back someday to haunt you.

Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions