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Installment Payments in a New York Divorce Property Settlement


There isn’t always an obvious way to divide an asset you own with a spouse. Some are straightforward, such as personal items that one spouse wants but another doesn’t, or the cash in a shared checking account. Others are much more challenging, such as the family home, a retirement account that will soon become vested, or stock options that have not yet matured. In these cases, a spouse buying out their ex’s interest may be the ideal outcome, but it may not be financially feasible.

The spouse who wants to remain the owner of a valuable asset might request that they buy out their ex’s share in installment payments over time. In ideal circumstances, an installment agreement can work well. After a divorce, however, circumstances are rarely ideal, and relationships between ex-spouses are often one stray spark away from an explosion of conflict. Before you agree to accept installment payments from your ex, ask some important questions to help you identify whether an installment plan would be right for you, and speak to a seasoned New York divorce attorney for additional guidance.

How is your spouse’s financial solvency post-divorce?

Perhaps your ex has had steady and successful work for years and has the financial maturity to keep up with a payment plan. Under these circumstances, an installment agreement could be a good idea. However, if your former spouse is re-entering the labor market after a long absence, is bad at managing money, or has trouble keeping up with their bills for other reasons, you might not want to become their creditor.

Would you be in bad financial shape if your spouse failed to keep up with these payments?

There’s always the possibility that your spouse will be unwilling or unable to make payments on their debt to you. If this were to happen and you would have trouble making ends meet as a result, don’t do it. It isn’t fair to yourself to put your financial well-being in jeopardy simply to be helpful to your ex.

Do you have the stomach for more litigation if you need to enforce the installment agreement?

You should never consider an installment plan that isn’t in writing, prepared by a trustworthy divorce attorney, so that you can enforce such an agreement in court if necessary. That said, you’ll need to ask yourself whether you’re willing to go back to court to enforce an installment plan before agreeing to one. As you may already know, litigation can be stressful and expensive, and you may not want to invite the opportunity for additional courtroom battles back into your life.

If you’re considering filing for divorce in New York, seek out compassionate, seasoned, and professional legal counsel by contacting the Poughkeepsie family law attorneys at Van DeWater & Van DeWater for a consultation, at 845-452-5900.

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