NYC Property Division Lawyers
If you are contemplating or in the midst of a divorce in the state of New York, you’re probably wondering how NYC’s family court will divide marital assets between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. The court looks at everything couples own and they label every item as either separate or marital property. Determining what is (and isn’t) a marital asset can be quite complex, and it makes a great deal of sense to ask a local property division lawyer for help figuring things out. Here, you’ll learn more about New York’s equitable distribution laws.
Marital Assets: What Are They?
The easiest definition of a marital asset is anything that’s owned by one or both spouses and is not considered separate property. Money and some other assets acquired by either spouse during a marriage are regarded as marital property unless you or the other spouse convince the judge that it should be separate. Below are a few common marital assets:
- Investments, cash, retirement accounts, and bank accounts acquired during the marriage. If you had the account before getting married, the value increase attributed to the duration of the marriage is included in the marital estate, but the funds from before the marriage are held separately.
- Real property bought during the marriage. It’s important to note that, like retirement accounts, the family court may deduct part of the property’s value to account for separate property contributions. This usually happens when a spouse uses his or her own funds from before the marriage to make a down payment on a home or piece of land.
- Appliances, artwork, furniture, and cars bought during the marriage are regarded as marital property unless you or your spouse can prove otherwise.
The state of New York is a bit unique in that it considers certain business permits and educational degrees as part of the marital estate if they were obtained during a marriage.
What is Considered Separate Property?
If you received or owned something before getting married, it is considered separate property, whether it’s personal or real property. Inheritances and gifts from someone other than your spouse are held separately, even if they were acquired during a marriage. If separate personal property was exchanged during the marriage, the new assets are also separate. For instance, if you had a car while you were still single, traded it in during the marriage and used your separate funds to make up the difference, the new vehicle is considered separate property.
This is a way to fairly divide marital property during a divorce. Before the state of New York adopted equitable distribution laws, it was a common-law property state. Under the previous system, each spouse’s property was distributed according to how the title was held. For example, if a car was in your name only, you received it in the divorce decree.
Marital and Separate Property: Why it Really Matters
The family court will give each spouse his or her separate property before dividing marital assets. Under New York’s laws, divorce court judges don’t automatically give each spouse half of the marital estate. Rather, the judge must consider various factors when determining an equitable or fair distribution of marital assets. State law allows spouses to create written agreements stating what’s separate property and what’s marital property. However, you should be aware that commingling or mixing marital and separate property can turn an asset from separate to shared, unless it’s real estate.
Why It’s Important to Consult a Lawyer for Matters of Property Division
If you’re in the middle of a divorce or you’re considering getting one, you should put your case in the hands of a knowledgeable divorce and property division lawyer in NYC. We invite you to contact us by phone or email to set up a no-obligation consultation and discuss your legal options.