Asked over 4 years ago - New JerseyFlag
II live in New Jersey and I am in the middle of a non-contested divorce. We have verbally agreed that she would take the things that belonged to her and I would take what belonged to me. This included a student loan that is in her name and was started before we were married. According the the paperwork I have to sign, I would be responsible for 50% of all debts. So my questions are:
1. If she took out the loan before we were married, am I responsible for any of it?
2. Should I have another file drawn up and signed that states we both agree the student loan is her responsibility?
She filed for the divorce, and is pushing me to sign it. I just don't want to be legally connected to her debts.
It sounds like there may be a conflict between what she is saying to you verbally and what she is asking you to sign. If there are assets to divide or outstanding debts, then a written settlement agreement should be professionally prepared and agreed upon. This should state in writing who gets what belongings and who is responsible for the loans. I would recommend before you sign any papers that you consult with an attorney so that your interests are protected.
You would probably NOT be responsible for any pre-marital debt / student loans she acquired. In my experience (both litigating and as a court appointed settlement panelist), student loan debt isn't generally shared 50/50% in any case - unlike many other states, you're not allowed in NJ to divide the value of a degree that's attained during the marriage, so there's a strong argument that the student loan debt shouldn't be shared - or at least not equally.
Be careful - many mediators are excellent, but I've seen a few where the "settlement" was recommended without the slightest idea as to what the law is - some mediators just say "split the difference" on everything. All mediators should advise you to have the agreement looked over by an experienced Family Law attorney --- that's advise to heed!
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