Equitable Distribution in New York

How Marital Property Is Divided in a New York Divorce

When a divorce is granted in New York, the state’s equitable distribution law will guide a determination on property settlement through division of the marital property. This law considers that a marriage is, among other things, an “economic partnership” to which both parties contribute – whether that contribution is made as a spouse, parent, wage earner and/or homemaker.

It is important to understand that equitable distribution does not always result in an equal, 50/50 division of assets; rather, the law will look to what is “fair.” A couple’s property will be categorized as marital or separate, the value of the property will be determined and the property will be distributed in a manner that is hopefully fair and equitable to both parties.

At the present time, property can include:

  • Art collections
  • Medical degrees / licenses
  • Law practices / licenses
  • Stock options
  • Business interests
  • Airplanes
  • Equine interests and farms
  • Civil service assets
  • Pensions, 401(k)s and retirement plans
  • Teaching licenses
  • Professional certifications

*The law in this area is changing.

The Difference Between Separate Property & Marital Property

Separate property can be described as any property that belongs to one spouse only. The manner in which property is categorized as marital or separate will vary from state to state. It is also important to note that separate property can be considered marital property if it has been co-mingled with marital assets or it has appreciated in value during the marriage due to the efforts of the other spouse.

In New York, separate property may include any of the following:

  • Property acquired before the start of the marriage
  • Property acquired by bequest, devise or gift from someone other than your spouse
  • Property described as separate property in a written agreement
  • Property acquired in exchange for separate property
  • Financial compensation received for personal injuries

Disclosing Financial Information During Your Divorce

Under New York’s Equitable Distribution law, when seeking a divorce, both parties are required to disclose all information about their respective finances so the court can make a fair determination about the distribution of their marital property – as well as appropriate levels of support. To ensure full disclosure, the law requires both parties to exchange sworn financial statements accompanied by a current paycheck stub and their most recently filed state and federal income tax returns.

If you have questions about how your property would be divided in a divorce, please contact our New York divorce lawyer, Lois M. Brenner, Esq. You can reach our office at (646) 663-4546.

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