Couple with their respective divorce documents

Why Would Marital Assets Be Unequally Divided?

By David Hammond

One of the biggest issues to address during divorce proceedings is the division of marital assets. Of course, first, the assets need to be categorized as either marital or separate. Only marital assets will be subject to division. Then, during division of the assets, a New York court will determine what division of the marital assets would be considered equitable. As an equitable distribution state, New York courts attempt to fairly divide marital assets as opposed to dividing them equally. So, why would marital assets be divided unequally in a New York divorce? We will discuss that here.

Why Would Marital Assets Be Unequally Divided?

New York is an equitable distribution state and that means that while marital assets may be divided equally in a divorce, the intent of the court will be to divide marital assets in an equitable, or fair, manner. This means that marital assets would be unequally divided in a New York divorce if a court found that it was necessary in order to achieve an equitable result.

In order to determine what division of the marital assets would be fair, New York courts are tasked with weighing a variety of factors relevant to this analysis. Such factors include:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The relative age and health status of each spouse
  • The earning potential of each spouse
  • The income of each spouse
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage
  • The employability of each spouse

Every divorce is different and the factors pertinent to each case will determine how assets can be divided in a manner that is equitable. While it is fairly common for an equal division of assets to be determined equitable under the circumstances, some factors in other cases will mean that an unequal division is necessary to accomplish equity.

It should be noted too, however, that prior to dividing the marital assets, the court will need to determine what assets are, in fact, marital as opposed to separate. How assets are categorized can have a big impact on how the rest of the divorce proceeds. Generally speaking, marital property is considered to be that property which was acquired over the course of the marriage, with some limited exceptions. Alternately, separate property is generally considered to be that which was acquired prior to marriage, although the formerly separate property can be converted into marital property through certain courses of action. If a spouse tries to claim that a certain asset is actually separate property, not marital property, it is the burden of that spouse to prove that this is really the case.

Unless an asset was acquired through an inheritance or something such as compensation from a personal injury claim, it is likely that it will be considered marital if acquired during the marriage. Spouses must work to identify all property that is marital in nature and also provide a specific value to marital property. In certain cases, experts such as appraisers may need to be called in to evaluate the value of a certain piece of property. This needs to be done prior to the court being able to render a decision on dividing the marital property.

Syracuse Divorce Attorneys

Division of marital assets can be more than highly personal. It can also have a big impact on your future financial well-being. You can trust CDH Law to protect your best interests throughout the process. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.