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New York Marital Property Division: A Many-Factored Analysis

In New York, dividing spouses' property can be one of the most difficult tasks in the divorce process. The equitable distribution law in New York provides a way for both spouses to receive their fair share of property from the marriage, which the state considers a partnership both social and economic in nature. Splitting up assets in the most equitable way is one of the main goals in New York divorces.

Marital and Separate Property

Equitable distribution starts with classification of the spouses' different types of property. Marital property is that acquired by either spouse during the marriage, including furniture, cars, pension plans and retirement accounts. Separate property, meanwhile, is anything a spouse owned before entering into the marriage, as well as inheritance, gifts and personal injury awards.

Once the spouses' marital property is identified, it is valued by a qualified professional. After that, it is time to figure out how the property must be distributed between the spouses. Under New York divorce law, the court must undertake equitable distribution of the property, which is more complex than simply giving each spouse assets worth half of the total value of the marital property.

Equitable Distribution Factors

The law requires New York judges to consider 14 factors in deciding how to allocate the marital property. The court's analysis includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • The spouses' age and health
  • The spouses' careers or career potential
  • The spouses' probable future financial circumstances
  • Either spouse's wasteful dissipation of assets during the marriage
  • The tax consequences to both spouses
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The value of spousal, parental, wage-earner or homemaker services
  • Whether the divorce will cause loss of inheritance, pension rights or health insurance benefits
  • Whether the judge awards spousal support

Spouses should each seek legal representation by a skilled New York divorce attorney when going through the various stages of divorce negotiations and all court proceedings to reach the most equitable outcome possible.

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