One of the major steps in the divorce process is the division of marital assets. Sometimes, a divorcing couple can reach an agreement on their own regarding how the marital property should be split. Oftentimes, however, such an agreement will prove impossible. When that happens, the court will be charged with dividing the marital assets. Each state has different laws relating to the division of marital property. In New York, the property will be subject to equitable division.
How Does New York Handle Division of Marital Property During Divorce?
New York is referred to as an “equitable division state.” This is because marital property will be divided equitably upon divorce. Equitably does not mean equal. It means that the marital property will be divided in a manner that is fair. While a fair division of the assets may mean an equal division, this is not necessarily always the case. The court will base its decision on what a fair division of the assets is on several factors, including:
- Each spouse’s income during the marriage and at the time of the divorce
- Relative age and health of each spouse
- Alimony award
- Estimated future financial needs of each spouse
- Duration of the marriage
- Liquid or non-liquid nature of the marital property
- Tax consequences
- Whether either spouse wastefully used up marital assets
- Any other factor deemed relevant to the court in order to reach an equitable division of the assets
Before the marital assets can be divided, however, it must be determined which assets are actually marital. Only marital property is subject to equitable division by the court. Other property, referred to as “separate property” remains in the possession of the respective spouse owner. Marital property will include property that either spouse acquired during the marriage, with certain exceptions. Marital property will, thus, include things like income earned by either spouse during the marriage, property purchased during the marriage, appreciation of property during the marriage, and things like retirement benefits acquired during the marriage. Some of the exceptions to what is considered “marital property” include:
- Property acquired prior to marriage
- Property given as an inheritance
- Compensation from personal injury action
- Property specified as “separate” in a prenuptial, postnuptial, or other contract
Once the court has determined what is classified as “marital property,” the above listed factors will be employed in reaching a decision on what division of the marital assets would be fair. This can be a long and contentious process. Some assets may need to be appraised by experts. For instance, financial accounts and securities will often need to be evaluated by a CPA or other financial expert in order for the court to understand the actual value of the asset being included in the equitable division process.
New York Divorce Attorneys
Division of the marital property is a critical part of the divorce process. It also can have serious financial repercussions for the parties involved. It is important that your rights are always protected during divorce proceedings. The dedicated family law attorneys at CDH Law protect the rights of our clients and always look at for their best interests. Contact us today.