When it comes to divorce and the division of assets, equitable distribution is a crucial concept to grasp. Each state in the United States follows its own set of laws and guidelines regarding property division during divorce proceedings, and New York is no exception. If you find yourself going through a divorce in New York or just want to be well-informed about this topic, this comprehensive guide will provide you with the essential information you need to understand equitable distribution.
What is Equitable Distribution
Equitable distribution is a principle that aims to divide marital assets fairly between divorcing spouses. It’s essential to note that equitable does not necessarily mean equal. Unlike community property states where assets are divided 50/50, New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that property and assets are divided in a manner that is considered fair and just based on various factors.
Equitable Distribution Factors
New York courts consider several factors when determining how to distribute marital assets fairly. These factors include:
Duration of the Marriage: The length of the marriage is an essential factor. Longer marriages may lead to a more even distribution of assets.
Income and Property of Each Spouse: The court considers the income and property of each spouse at the time of the divorce. This includes both marital and separate property.
Age and Health of Each Spouse: The court takes into account the age and health of both spouses and their future financial prospects.
Custody and Childcare Responsibilities: If there are children involved, the court considers the custodial arrangement and the financial needs of the children.
Contributions to the Marriage: Contributions, both financial and non-financial, made by each spouse to the marriage are considered. This includes contributions as a homemaker or supporting the other spouse’s career.
Professional Skills and Employability: The court evaluates the professional skills, employability, and potential future income of each spouse.
Wasteful Dissipation: If either spouse has wasted marital assets recklessly, such as through gambling or excessive spending, the court may take it into account during the distribution.
Tax Consequences: The potential tax implications of the asset division are considered to ensure a fair outcome.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
Before diving into the equitable distribution process, it’s vital to understand the distinction between marital property and separate property:
Marital Property: Marital property includes assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse owns them. This typically includes income earned, real estate acquired, and items purchased during the marriage.
Separate Property: Separate property includes assets owned by either spouse before the marriage or acquired individually during the marriage through inheritance or gifts from third parties.
It’s important to note that separate property is generally not subject to equitable distribution and remains with the original owner upon divorce.
The Equitable Distribution Process
In New York, divorcing couples have the option to negotiate their own settlement regarding property division or allow the court to make the decisions. If the couple cannot reach an agreement, the court will step in.
During the court process, the judge will evaluate all the factors mentioned above and decide on the fairest way to divide the marital assets. This may involve dividing the assets in half, but it could also result in a more uneven distribution based on the circumstances of the case.
Some assets, such as the family home, may be difficult to divide in half physically. In such cases, the court may order the sale of the asset and then divide the proceeds.
It’s worth mentioning that prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can significantly impact the equitable distribution process. If such an agreement exists and is deemed valid, the terms specified in the agreement will generally be followed, provided they do not violate any state laws or public policy.
Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging and emotional process, and understanding equitable distribution is crucial to ensuring a fair division of assets. In New York, the court considers various factors to determine how to divide marital property equitably, taking into account each spouse’s contributions, financial situation, and future prospects. It’s essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney to protect your rights and interests during this process. With the right guidance, you can navigate the complexities of equitable distribution and pave the way for a more secure financial future post-divorce.
How can Michael D. Schmitt, ESQ. help you if you have a divorce case in New York
At the Law Office of Michael D. Schmitt, ESQ., we understand that going through a divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged experience. Our primary goal is to provide compassionate and skilled legal representation to individuals facing divorce cases in New York. If you find yourself in this difficult situation, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of divorce and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.
Experience in New York Divorce Laws: As a seasoned family law attorney, Michael D. Schmitt has an in-depth understanding of New York’s divorce laws and equitable distribution principles. Our firm stays up-to-date with any changes in the legal landscape to provide you with the most relevant and effective advice.
Personalized Legal Guidance: We recognize that every divorce case is unique, and we tailor our approach to suit your specific needs and circumstances. Our team takes the time to listen to your concerns, gather pertinent information, and develop a customized strategy that aligns with your objectives.
Skillful Negotiation: While courtroom battles are sometimes necessary, we believe in exploring alternative dispute resolution methods like negotiation and mediation to reach amicable solutions whenever possible. This approach can save you time, money, and emotional distress.
Aggressive Advocacy: In cases where settlement is not feasible, Michael D. Schmitt, ESQ., is a tenacious litigator with a track record of success in court. We will zealously represent your interests, fighting for a fair division of assets, child custody arrangements, spousal support, and any other relevant issues.
Protecting Parental Rights: If children are involved in your divorce, their well-being is of paramount importance. We prioritize the best interests of the children and work to establish custody and visitation arrangements that foster a positive environment for their growth and development.
Handling Complex Financial Matters: Divorce can involve intricate financial matters, especially in high-asset cases. Our firm has experience dealing with complex financial issues, including the valuation and division of businesses, investments, real estate, and retirement accounts.
Enforcing Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements: If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, we will review its validity and enforceability, ensuring that your rights under the agreement are protected.
Post-Divorce Modifications: Life circumstances can change after a divorce, warranting modifications to existing agreements. Whether you need adjustments to child custody, support arrangements, or other orders, we can guide you through the modification process.
Compassionate Support: Our firm understands the emotional toll divorce can take on individuals and families. We offer compassionate support and strive to minimize stress during this challenging time, allowing you to focus on rebuilding your life.
At the Law Office of Michael D. Schmitt, ESQ., we are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for our clients in their New York divorce cases. With our experience, personalized approach, and dedication, we stand ready to assist you in navigating the complexities of divorce and moving forward toward a brighter future.