Manhattan Equitable Distribution Lawyer
NY Equitable Distribution Law
Often, one of the most contentious issues in a divorce is deciding who will get what. If you did not execute an enforceable prenuptial agreement before getting married, you and your ex-spouse will need to determine how property and debt will be divided between you. If you cannot reach a compromise, a judge will decide for you.
At Roven Law Group, P.C., our Manhattan equitable distribution attorneys are committed to helping you obtain a fair outcome in your contested divorce case. We will serve as your fierce advocate in and out of the courtroom and can offer you the skilled guidance you need to get the best possible result. With so much at stake, you should not wait to seek legal assistance when negotiating matters of property division in New York.
How Equitable Distribution Works in New York
New York is an “equitable distribution” state. This means a judge will divide all marital assets equitably if the parties in a contested divorce cannot reach a compromise on their own. “Equitable” does not necessarily mean “equally,” as the judge will divide assets and property based on what they believe to be fair.
In determining fairness, a judge will consider many factors, including:
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The types and liquidity of property that must be divided
- The income and holdings of each spouse, when they married versus when they sought a divorce
- The anticipated tax liability of each spouse
- The anticipated financial outlook of each spouse
- The anticipated financial and practical needs of the spouse awarded child custody
- The extent of any awarded spousal support
- The difficulty of calculating and/or dividing any business interests held by a single spouse
- Any losses to one spouse resulting from the divorce related to health insurance, inheritance rights, and/or pension benefits
- Any disputes over what constitutes marital property
- Any wasteful conduct that resulted in the loss of marital assets
- Any attempts to conceal or insulate marital property prior to filing for a divorce
How your case and needs are positioned may dramatically impact how a judge interprets and decides your case. Our Manhattan equitable distribution lawyers know how to argue these cases and will fight to deliver the result you deserve.
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Not all property is subject to equitable distribution in New York. Assets and debts are considered either “marital property” or “separate property." Only marital property is subject to equitable division in a divorce. Each spouse gets to keep their separate property.
Marital property covers any assets or debts that were obtained during the marriage. It does not matter who purchased the property, whose name is on the ownership documents, or who took on the debt. If it was acquired while you were married to your spouse, it is considered fair game in the eyes of the law.
Common examples of marital property in New York include:
- All income earned throughout the marriage
- All debt acquired throughout the marriage
- The value of any benefits accrued throughout the marriage
- Any appreciation of marital property accrued throughout the marriage
- Any assets purchased with either spouse’s income throughout the marriage, including a home, a vehicle, electronics, furniture, or other valuable items
Separate property refers to assets or debts that were acquired beforethe marriage began or after divorce was initiated. Certain other types of assets, including inheritances, may be considered separate property even if they were obtained during the marriage.
Examples of separate property include:
- Assets acquired before the marriage began or after the initiation of the divorce
- Assets a spouse received as part of an inheritance or lifetime gift
- Personal injury compensation awarded to one spouse
- Assets obtained via appreciation or proceeds of other forms of separate property
In some situations, separate property can becomemarital property. Whether a lucrative asset is considered separate or marital property is often the source of much conflict in a contested divorce case. Separate property can become subject to equitable distribution if it “comingles” with marital assets. Commingling refers to situations in which separate property irreversibly mixes with marital property, making isolation difficult, if not impossible.
Commingling can also occur when your spouse invests marital resources into your separate property. For example, say you bring a house into the marriage. Because you obtained the real estate prior to being married, the house is initially considered separate property. However, over the course of the marriage, your spouse spends a considerable amount of their own income to facilitate refurbishments and expansions. The repairs and new additions lead to a measurable appreciation in the value of the real estate, so the property is now likely considered “marital property” in a divorce.
Efforts to insulate separate property and protect these assets from becoming marital property must be implemented proactively. Once commingling occurs, it cannot be undone. A carefully drafted prenuptial agreement can designate assets as “separate property” even if those assets would otherwise constitute marital property.
Our New York City equitable distribution attorneys can thoroughly assess your circumstances and advise you on which of your assets are likely to be considered separate property or marital property. Our Manhattan equitable distribution lawyers at Roven Law Group, P.C. understands how much is at stake, which is why we will work closely with you to develop a strategy that accounts for your priorities and seeks a just outcome.