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Identifying marital assets in a New York divorce

When a married couple in New York gets a divorce, a family law judge will effectuate an equitable division of the couple's marital property. In a contested divorce, parties may not agree over which assets belong to both of them. Individuals should note that even if property was acquired by another spouse before marriage, any appreciation in its value that took place during the marriage may be subject to division. It may be a good idea to review supporting purchase documentation for assets that a spouse claims to have purchased before marriage to verify whether the property is in fact separately owned.

Spouses may attempt to shift assets out of joint accounts before they are divided, so parties should review all bank statements and cancelled checks. If a person is trying to determine how much money a spouse has in assets, a loan application would be a good place to look, since people generally detail every single asset on these applications to make themselves attractive to lenders.

A spouse may be holding real estate property without the other person's knowledge, so parties may want to check the line item for "real estate taxes" on Schedule A of a tax return. Schedule A may also show interest earned on investments. Schedule C is useful to review when a spouse owns a business, and other schedules and forms will say how much money a spouse received as an officer of a corporation in addition to other information.

If a person needs help taking an inventory of marital assets, it may be a good idea to consult a family law attorney. The inventory can be used by the attorney in negotiating a property settlement agreement.

Source: NJBIZ, "Industry Insights: Discovering hidden assets in divorce", Angela Scafuri, April 21, 2014

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