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How is property divided in a divorce in New York?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Property Division |

Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally taxing process, sometimes especially when it comes to dividing assets and property. The state of New York follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing property in a litigated divorce.

This means that marital assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between spouses who can’t come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce without judicial intervention. The court considers various factors to determine what constitutes a fair distribution of property.

Marital property vs. Separate property

When determining how to divide marital property, the court considers several factors, including:

  • Duration of the marriage: The length of the marriage is often a significant factor in property division. Generally, longer marriages may result in a more equitable distribution of assets.
  • Income and earning capacity: The court considers each spouse’s income and earning capacity when dividing property. Disparities in income may influence the allocation of assets.
  • Contributions to the marriage: Contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, both financial and non-financial, are taken into account. This includes contributions to household expenses, childcare and career sacrifices made to support the other spouse’s career.
  • Health and age of each spouse: The health and age of each spouse may impact their ability to support themselves financially post-divorce. The court may consider these factors when dividing assets.
  • Custodial arrangements: If there are children involved, custody arrangements may also influence property division. The court may prioritize the well-being of the children when making decisions about asset allocation.

But before dividing property, the court first distinguishes between marital and separate property. Marital property includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, regardless of who acquired them. On the other hand, separate property includes assets and debts acquired by either spouse before the marriage or through inheritance or gift during the marriage. In either event, these resources cannot be comingled if they are to remain separate unless the terms of a prenup override this concern.

Divorcing spouses who are unsure about property division in New York can benefit from enlisting legal counsel. Working with an experienced legal team can help to ensure (relatively) seamless property division during divorce.