Aside from child custody, the distribution of marital property is often one of the most contentious issues couples face during a divorce. Divorcing couples are often fearful that they will have to surrender the majority of their valuable assets and belongings to their spouse in the process, resulting in a massive blow to their post-divorce finances. While couples are given the freedom to decide how their assets and debts will be divided without the involvement of the courts, these tensions and fears can often prevent couples from coming to a mutual agreement and require a judge to issue a decision on their behalf. But how exactly does the court determine what type of arrangement is appropriate?
New York Is an Equitable Distribution State
In the state of New York, marital property is divided equitably, or fairly, under the state’s equitable distribution laws. Under an equitable distribution structure, the courts will consider numerous different factors regarding what each spouse contributed to the marriage and what they will need moving forward, resulting in a distribution arrangement that is fair, but not always “equal.”
Factors the courts will consider include:
- Each spouse’s income and property at the time of marriage and divorce
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s health and age
- Child custody arrangements
- Spousal support arrangements
- The liquid or non-liquid character of all property
- The tax obligations of each spouse
- Whether either spouse has attempted to hide assets
- Whether either spouse wastefully spent assets
What Property Is Subject to Distribution?
Only marital property is divided by the court. Each spouse will be able to keep their own separate property, except if the other spouse contributed to its increase in value.
Separate property may include:
- Property owned before marriage
- Property gained individually as a gift or inheritance
- Personal injury damages
- Property deemed separate in a valid marital agreement
Can An Attorney Help Me?
While equitable distribution laws are aimed at yielding a fair outcome, the reality of the matter is that they place control of the decision in the hands of a judge rather than the spouses themselves. As such, it is imperative that spouses make every effort to pursue a mutual agreement through out-of-court negotiations prior to resorting to litigation.
At the Law Office of Dennis R. Vetrano, Jr., LLC, our Dutchess County divorce attorneys have walked thousands of couples through the process of divorce and can provide the strong advocacy you need to maximize your chances of achieving an amicable solution. If your divorce should escalate towards litigation, however, our team is fully prepared to go the distance to protect your interests and ensure you receive what is rightfully yours.
Contact our firm online or call (845) 605-4330 today to find out more about how we can help.