What If One Spouse Receives A Financial Windfall Or Incurs Significant Debt After Divorce Papers Are Filed?

Joanne P. Monagan, Esq.

A financial windfall after a divorce action (bonus, inheritance, winning lottery ticket) or a substantial liability (business loss, gambling debt) are not considered marital property. However, in determining a spouse's ability to pay support, these resources are relevant and must be disclosed.

Debts incurred after the divorce action are the separate responsibility of the spouse incurring the debt. This gets tricky when the person incurring the debt has used a joint credit card or line of credit. The non-responsible spouse must take all steps necessary to get their name removed from any liability for this debt. Simply saying “Oh, you pay the credit card balance until it's paid off” is not a good answer. MasterCard and American Express do not care what your divorce judgment says. If your name is on the account, credit card companies can legally go after you to collect, and failure to maintain the account properly will impact your credit.

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