If you have been married a long time, you and your spouse have likely built up a number of assets. You may own a house or two, multiple cars, bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts. One or both of you may even own a business. So when you get divorced, how will New York split up all your assets?
New York is an equitable distribution state. If you and your spouse cannot come up with a way to split your assets, courts will decide how to split them in a way that’s fairest. But this may not just be a 50-50 split.
How does equitable distribution work?
When you and your spouse first married, you each brought a certain amount of assets into the marriage. As you stayed married, you each put in different amounts towards your wealth. One of you may have had a higher salary while the other stayed home to take care of the family. One of you may have already owned a house when you married, but both of you have worked and paid to maintain and improve it.
When a judge rules on how to split your assets, he or she will take all of that and more into account. Then the judge will split your assets in a way that is fairest to each spouse.
Marital property vs. separate property
While any marital property is subject to division, you and your spouse may also have separate property that stays out of the divorce proceedings. In New York, separate property can be real estate that you had before you married. If you inherit assets during the marriage or win a personal injury claim, you can also keep that separate from marital property. Divorce courts will not divide separate property.
However, if you use funds from separate property to benefit your marriage, those funds automatically become marital property. And if your spouse works to improve your separate property, like fixing up a house or managing a stock portfolio, that can become marital property.
Dividing marital assets can be complex
If you and your spouse have a lot of assets, dividing them in divorce can be difficult. You will each want to consult with attorneys to ensure you receive a fair share of your assets. You can also use mediation to try and find a way to split your property without a court.
If you cannot agree on how to split everything, a New York divorce court will decide on the fairest way to divide your assets using equitable distribution.