Separation agreement verbiage question

Dear bettybrown:

Greetings. Yes, the payments to you for the negative equity in the car can be worded so that it is not alimony. Alimony would be taxable income to you. You may need to consult with an attorney though to help you draft the language correctly.

It does not matter what the payments are for, or what his family think. It only matters that the two of you can amicably agree on it. I would not put any language in the agreement to support any “point of view” as this is not the legal purpose of a separation agreement and property settlement.

Finally, there is really no such thing as a simple and straight forward separation agreement. I am sure that the agreement contains paragraphs which you do not clearly understand or which you need to have explained further. If this is the case, I suggest that you have an attorney review it with you before you go any further. We review agreements for people over the telephone if they can e-mail or fax the agreement to us first. Best of luck.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

Here is the background:

My husband and I have an automotive loan in both of our names. Currently his driver’s license is suspended so the car is registered to me alone. When we purchased the car, we traded in my car which was paid for and his car which rolled over some negative equity into our new car loan. Now that we are separating, I’m not really comfortable taking on such a high car payment. Refinancing really isn’t an option due to the amount of negative equity (about $5000). Another option is to sale the car and split the lose which neither one of us really want to take that kind of blow to our budget either. He has agreed, if I keep the car, to easy my financial burden by paying me half the car payment for a total of 24 months. Would this be considered alimony? Or, can we define these terms in a division of property section where we cover who gets the car?

His friends and family tell him that he is crazy for agreeing to this since we purchased the car during our marriage and I will have it after the marriage; however, I do feel he is responsible for paying the negative equity which came from a car that he purchased before we were married. Does this make sense legally? How can this be worded to support this point of view?

FYI…we are filing our own separation agreement - no laywers yet. I recieved a copy of a pretty simple and straight forward agreement from a friend who separated a few years ago.

Thanks for your help.