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What Is Equitable Distribution?

What Is Equitable Distribution?

Much of the emotional stress surrounding divorce comes from adjusting to the reality that you will no longer share a life with your ex. This change can have profound consequences for you, your former spouse, and any children you may share.

However, another challenging element of divorce is the division of marital property and assets. Each state has its own laws about how to split what a couple used to share.

New York is an equitable distribution state. This term means that the courts will attempt to distribute marital property in a manner that is as fair as possible for both sides. However, you should not expect this to mean that you and your ex will get a 50/50 split of all your assets. Understanding how equitable distribution works in New York can help you know what to expect and how to protect your rights.

Equitable Distribution versus Community Property

In community property states, each spouse owns an equal share of all income and assets they acquire during their marriage. As such, divorced couples in community property states can expect to split their marital property equally.

New York is an equitable distribution state rather than a community property state. According to equitable distribution, marital property refers only to assets that the couple acquired during their marriage. Property and assets each spouse owned before marriage will not be subject to equitable distribution, but the court will order a fair division of shared property.

How Courts Determine Equitable Distribution

Each spouse’s attorney, along with the court, will examine several factors when considering what is fair, such as:

  • Length of the marriage
  • Your individual incomes
  • Probable future incomes
  • Child custody and support
  • Tax obligations
  • Debts
  • Extenuating financial issues

A couple’s marital property includes:

  • Primary home
  • Shared vehicles
  • Businesses
  • Stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments
  • Retirement accounts
  • Jewelry
  • Art
  • Any other property the couple acquired together

Your lawyers and the courts will conduct an extensive valuation of these items based on their current market value. They will also assess when and how you acquired each item. Furthermore, any debts incurred during the marriage will also play a role in determining equitable distribution.

Ultimately, it is difficult to know what the courts will deem a fair division of property until the divorce is near its conclusion. However, discussing your situation with an experienced New York divorce attorney can give you a reasonably good idea of what to expect.

The Family Home in a New York Divorce

One of the most significant assets you and your partner may need to manage in a divorce is the home you share. You must first determine whether the house is considered separate property or marital property. If you and your spouse purchased the home together after marriage, it is marital property. As such, the court could give one party the home and the other an equitable share of other assets. Alternatively, the court could direct that the house be sold and the proceeds divided evenly.

The home may have belonged to one party prior to the marriage. It could be either separate or marital property, depending upon which partner paid for repairs or improvements. To make matters more confusing, however, the house may be considered commingled or mixed property if each spouse has used separate assets to purchase the marital home. If this situation applies to your marriage, an experienced New York divorce attorney can help you understand how the division of the value of the home might occur.

Contact The Mandel Law Firm

If you are getting a divorce in New York, The Mandel Law Firm can help you navigate the complex process of equitable distribution. Our attorneys have years of experience assisting clients with their divorces, and we are ready to help you too. Call us today at (646) 770-3868 or contact us online for a consultation with one of our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys.

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