There is a lot of confusion about how asset division works in a New York divorce, much of which has to do with the fact that many parties mistakenly believe that the process is easy: You just gather everything you own and categorize each item by whether you acquired it before or after your wedding date. Then, you assess marital property and divide it according to New York’s equitable distribution statute. The problem with this simplified description is that it skips over many of the legal details. It does not take into account complex assets, which are not exclusive to high-net-worth individuals; plus, such a basic analysis of property division disregards how emotion can impact the process to further complicate a divorce case.
Many couples will acquire more than real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings during their marriage, so complex division of assets is a factor in more divorces than you expect. You will see the concept of equitable distribution in a new, far more challenging light, so it is wise to trust your case to a New York asset division attorney who can assist with ownership interests in:
- Stocks, Options, and Restricted Shares: These securities have value, but their worth may be attached to the person on legal title. It may not be possible to divide the shares themselves without significant tax consequences or penalties; still, they must be included in assessing equitable property division when the owner spouse acquired them during the marriage.
- Pensions and Retirement Accounts: A non-employee spouse only has an interest in the proportion of a pension that was earned after the wedding date, and many retirement assets are subject to the same rules. These accounts are often an issue in so-called “gray” divorces among spouses reaching retirement age.
- Interests in a Business: Statistics on business ownership in New York indicate that 98 percent of all businesses in New York City are smaller, family-owned operations. If you and/or your spouse are among these owners, there are multiple questions to ask in division of assets:
- How much is the company worth?
- What is the value of goodwill and reputation that may be attached to one spouse?
- Does it make sense for one spouse to buy out the other?
- Will one or both spouses stay on if you keep the business?
- What contributions did either or both spouses make to the company during the marriage?
- Multiple Real Estate Holdings: When your real estate ownership includes more than just the family residence and a vacation home, property division is an issue. Rental properties that generate income are a particular concern. Parties must first conduct a valuation, followed by considerations on retaining, selling, or renting.
Experts for Complex Property Division: While some asset division matters can be resolved by agreement, most disputes will go through a hearing to determine how to equitably distribute them. Valuation of the above four items is a crucial factor, so both parties have the opportunity to retain and work with experts under New York law. Examples include:
- Accountants and tax professionals
- Real estate inspectors and appraisers
- Financial analysts and actuaries
- Pension, retirement plan, and insurance experts
- Many other experts with specialized information regarding division of assets
Contact Our New York Asset Division Lawyers to Discuss Complexities
At The Mandel Law Firm, our team has advised many clients on the range of financial and ownership issues involved with division of assets. We have experience with sophisticated real and personal property, so we are prepared to protect your interest. For more information, please call our Manhattan office at (646) 770-3868 or go online to set up a consultation.