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Frequently Asked Questions – Property and Alimony

We split the property equally, right?

As a general rule yes but the parent with the child will also get the child related property in addition to ½ of the adult belongings so it will appear they got more.  The property being split though is only the items acquired during the marriage with some exceptions.  It is not ½ of everything either of you own, before, during and after the separation.

I do not have to pay off on my spouse’s credit card do I?

The bank can’t make you pay on an account that your name is not physically on but the court has the power to obligate you to pay your share and may punish you if you do not do as ordered.    Remember that during the marriage the credit card account was used to buy things for the marriage, whether it was clothes, food, vacations, gas, etc.  As such the Court sees it as a mutual debt not an individual debt.

I can’t afford the house or the car so can my spouse be ordered to pay for it for me?

The court has the power to do that but usually puts the debt with the item.  If you want the house or the car then expect to pay for them.

The separation was my spouse’s fault so I get more don’t I?

No.  Fault is not a significant factor in property distribution.   The Court puts the property on a spreadsheet and compares values to end up with a mathematical split close to down the middle.

I was married and didn’t work so I am entitled to alimony aren’t I?

Not necessarily.   Alimony is totally up to the Judge.  He alone determines how much and for how long, if any.  There is no chart and there is no automatic entitlement.  Alimony is determined on a case by case basis.  The Court will typically presume that any unemployed party is capable of working so the consideration starts with the low income parent having at least an imputed income of a minimum wage job and a 40 hour week.  Not working is not an option in the computation.   Alimony for less than 3 to 4 years of marriage is rare.  Alimony is intended to supplement the low income party for a short period of time and give them time to reestablish themselves in the workforce.  Longer marriages may yield alimony for up to ½ the length of the marriage but it is usually not a lifetime benefit.  The court has to consider who is paying what bills to include child support and then balance it against the income of the parties.