Last Updated On: December 13, 2023

What is Equitable Distribution in New York and How Will it Affect You When You Divorce?

Divorce can introduce a host of complex issues, and one of the most challenging aspects is the division of marital assets and debts. This process is known as equitable distribution, a principle that governs how property is divided during a divorce. In the state of New York, equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily mean equal, but rather what the court deems “fair”. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, such as the duration of the marriage and the economic circumstances of each spouse, to determine how to divide the marital property.

The nuances of equitable distribution can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the emotional toll of a divorce. A skilled divorce attorney can provide guidance throughout the process, offering advice that is tailored to your specific circumstances. New York City divorce lawyer Juan Luciano may be able to help you understand how the principles of equitable distribution apply to your case, advocating for your interests in court or in negotiations with your spouse. Contact us today at (212) 537-5859 to schedule a consultation. 

Equitable Distribution Vs. Community Property, Which is Better?

Some states are community property states. This means that married spouses equally own all income and assets acquired during the marriage. In the case of divorce, all assets and debts acquired during the marriage are split equally.

In New York, we used to be a common-law property state. We now recognize equitable distribution laws when it comes to property division. This means that only those assets that were acquired during the marriage are considered marital property. These will be divided, not equally but in a way that considers a more fair distribution of property.

Any separate property or assets owned by one spouse prior to the marriage will not be subject to equitable distribution. Your Manhattan divorce attorney can help you understand which of your assets are considered separate property or marital property.

Factors Considered in Equitable Distribution

Under New York’s equitable distribution process, many different things will be considered by divorce lawyers and by the court in the distribution of property. These factors can be how long you were married, what your separate incomes are and what they may be into the future, the child custody and support arrangements, tax, and debt obligations, and if there are any extenuating financial issues.

Equitable distribution, under New York laws, will consider an extensive valuation of the couple’s marital property. This marital property includes

● The primary home
● Any other acquired property
● Vehicles
● Businesses
● Stock, bonds, and other investments
● Retirement accounts
● Jewelry
● Artwork

In valuing your marital property, lawyers and the New York courts will look at each of them, assessing when they were acquired and with what funds. Their value will be determined by what is fair market value at the current market. Any debt obligations or credits are also considered common property and will be factored into equitable distribution. An experienced equitable distribution lawyer in New York will also consider what assets each partner has a preference in keeping.

To help prevent some of these potential issues, some couples chose to hire a prenuptial agreement lawyer in NYC.  If you are getting married soon, contact the law office of Juan Luciano today to discuss your options.

Factors Considered In Equitable Distribution Description
Duration of marriage The length of time the couple was married.
Individual finances and future Each spouse’s current and potential future income, as well as their earning capacity.
Child custody and support Arrangements for child custody, visitation, and child support obligations.
Tax obligations and liabilities Tax implications and obligations for each spouse related to the divorce settlement.
Debt obligations and credits Outstanding debts and any credits or contributions made by each spouse during the marriage.
Other financial considerations Any additional financial factors or circumstances that may impact distribution of assets.

What Happens to a House in A Divorce?

You will first need to decide if the home is marital or separate property before you can divide it. This means that your house is marital property if it was purchased by you and your spouse after marriage. The court will then divide the house in an equitable manner. However, the property would still be separate if one spouse purchased it before the marriage was complete and did not place the other spouse’s name on the title.

The family home may also be considered a commingled property (or mixed property). This is when each spouse uses his or her own money (separate assets) to purchase the marital property. If your family home is a commingled asset, it can make the process more complicated. It is best to speak with a divorce attorney if you find yourself in this situation.

If a marital and separate property is commingled, the judge can combine separate property with marital property and divide it accordingly. After taking your individual contributions into account, the judge will divide marital property. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can protect you from your marital property becoming part of the marital estate.

Separate Property Vs. Marital Property in New York

Separate property that was owned or inherited by either spouse before the marriage, any compensation from a personal injury prior to the marriage, or any properties set out in a prenuptial agreement will not be considered marital property and will not be subject to the equitable distribution process.

That being said, however, separate property may have been converted into marital ones. For instance, if one spouse acquired property prior to the marriage and added the other partner’s name to the deed afterward, it now becomes marital property. Or if one spouse owned an investment property before marriage but the other helped pay for the mortgage and maintenance afterward, the concept of separate property can become a bit muddier and it may be considered marital property. It then may come down to the New York courts making important decisions about the division of these assets.

Yes, equitable distribution sounds complicated. And sometimes it is, depending on the couple. In most cases, however, a couple can reach an agreement, with assistance, in order to meet both party’s needs.

Skilled New York divorce lawyers help couples work amicably to split both their assets and their debts fairly. In the case where you can’t agree, your divorce lawyer should be an aggressive advocate for you.

If you have questions about equitable distribution laws in New York or are looking for a divorce attorney who can manage a cooperative strategy yet can aggressively represent you when it is called for, contact the law office of Juan Luciano Divorce Lawyer for a consultation.

Who Gets the House in a Divorce in New York?

In a divorce, deciding who gets the house hinges on its classification as either marital or separate property. If the house was purchased after the marriage, it is typically considered marital property. The court then divides this property equitably between the spouses. However, if the house was solely bought by one spouse prior to the marriage and the other spouse’s name was not placed on the title, the property is considered separate.

A more complex scenario arises when the property is categorized as ‘commingled’ or mixed. This happens when each spouse uses their personal resources, or separate assets, to buy the house during their marriage. In such a situation, the house becomes a commingled asset, which may complicate the division process. It is highly recommended to seek legal advice in these circumstances to ensure a fair division.

In cases where marital and separate properties are mixed or commingled, the court has the ability to merge the two and divide them fairly. The judge takes each spouse’s individual contributions into account when deciding the division of properties. To prevent your personal assets from becoming part of the marital estate, you can use legal instruments like prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. These agreements can provide an additional layer of protection for your assets during a divorce.

Getting the Help of an Experienced New York City Divorce Lawyer

Equitable distribution in New York aims to ensure a fair division of marital property during a divorce proceeding. The court’s interpretation of what is “fair and equitable” is subjective and can depend on various factors such as each spouse’s income, the length of the marriage, and the likely future financial circumstances of each party. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the nuances of this law as it can significantly impact your financial stability post-divorce.

A divorce lawyer can advocate for your interests, ensuring the court fully understands your contributions to the marriage and your future financial needs. At the law office of Juan Luciano Divorce Lawyer, our team of New York City divorce attorneys may be able to help identify and accurately value all marital assets and debts, negotiate a fair settlement agreement on your behalf, and present compelling arguments to the court if necessary. Remember, the outcome of your divorce proceeding can have long-term financial implications, so investing in competent legal representation is often a wise decision. Contact us today at (212) 537-5859 to schedule a consultation.

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