When you pursue a divorce in New York, you may not be sure how your marital assets get divided between you and your former spouse. For couples that cannot reach a settlement agreement on this issue, the judge presiding over their case will make this determination as equitably as possible, though not necessarily equal.

Before walking away from the negotiation table, it is essential to understand how a court divides marital assets in a New York divorce. Consulting with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer regarding your case is highly recommended to avoid suffering a significant financial loss when your marital property gets divided.

How Are Assets Divided in New York?

As an equitable distribution state, New York law requires a judge to divide marital property equitably. To determine how much you and your former spouse should receive individually, the court will consider several factors. These will demonstrate what each of you contributed to the marriage and what is necessary to help you move forward after the marriage has ended.

You must remember that equitable does not automatically translate into equal. Meaning, if an agreement is not possible, you may end up with significantly less than you had hoped. An experienced New York divorce lawyer is an invaluable resource of advice and representation because of this fact. The division does not have to be equal to be considered fair. If you and your spouse cannot compromise, the court will step in and divide your property for you.

What Assets Are Considered When Dividing Marital Assets?

One of the biggest questions that divorce lawyers get asked by their clients is which assets are subject to division in New York. Generally, there are two types of property:

Marital Property

Assets acquired during your marriage, regardless of who purchased it or is on the title. This includes property gained before the filing of the divorce action, according to New York DRL 236 (B)(c).

Common types of marital assets include:

  • Income earned by each spouse during the marriage
  • Property purchased with marital income
  • Property purchased while married (car, home, boat, etc.)
  • Spousal retirement benefits earned during the marriage
  • Appreciation earned on the marital property during the marriage
  • Debts incurred to support your marriage

Separate Property

Assets acquired before your marriage qualify as separate property in most circumstances. Some common examples of this asset type include:

  • Property acquired before the marriage by either spouse
  • Assets a spouse received individually as property before marriage
  • Personal injury compensation to a spouse
  • Property stated as separate in a legally valid prenuptial agreement or contract
  • Assets gained in part from appreciation, excluding instances where this appreciation was contributed to by your spouse under DLR § 236 (B)(d).

Typically, separate property that you own remains yours even if you exchange it for a new asset. However, there are situations where it may fall under division. This scenario is usually a result of your spouse having invested in it.

Property Types that are Subject to the Division of Property

Whenever possible, New York courts encourage divorcing couples to find a way to compromise and reach an agreement on marital assets. If you find this impossible, consulting with a family law mediator to determine what a fair division of your property should look like is wise.

Other factors that might be relevant to the circumstances of your New York divorce case are also important. This includes any losses a spouse may suffer because of the divorce, such as taxes incurred after gaining or losing marital assets.

Finally, while the reason for a divorce is not part of this determination, a spouse’s actions involving marital assets can impact how much one receives versus the other. For example, if you had a habit of spending frivolously that caused harm to your household, or had a lover during your marriage and used assets to support this other person’s home. These factors could impact how much you would receive as part of an equitable finding under New York DLR § 236 (B)(5)(c).

 The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. Can Help

Whether you are considering divorce or are in the middle of one, the potential for not receiving a fair and equitable division of your marital assets is a serious reality in New York. It is critical to work with an experienced New York family law attorney with extensive experience negotiating and litigating complex marital asset matters. Legal professionals like Attorney Katherine Ryan, P.C., can advise you throughout the divorce process and ensure your best interests are protected.

If you want to negotiate a settlement with your spouse, you can rely on The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., to intervene on your behalf. This process does not have to be drawn out, and our team will assist you in resolving issues that feel impossible to mediate. Our firm takes a personalized approach to all of our client relationships during such an emotional family transition.

As a recognized Super Lawyer in 2020, Attorney Katherine Ryan uses her legal services to get the fair and equitable divorce settlements her clients need throughout the Garden City, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, and Long Island. Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. today for a comprehensive evaluation of your family law issue.