If you’re about to get a divorce, you’re probably concerned about the fate of your property – cash, real estate, investments, retirement funds, and even businesses. You are aware that divorce can affect all of these things, but do you know to what extent your assets will be affected? Is it true that a divorce would mean financial ruin or bankruptcy? In New York, is everything divided down the middle?
Fortunately, an impending divorce does not have to mean financial ruin and a good divorce attorney can do a lot to protect your assets, which are divided according to the state’s complex equitable distribution laws.
Separate vs. Marital Property in a New York Divorce
It is very helpful for couples to have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement because these resolve the uncertainties of divorce. But if it’s too late for a prenup or postnup, you want to familiarize yourself with separate property (property that is owned by one spouse) and marital property (property that belongs to both spouses).
Separate property is not divided in a divorce. Instead, it remains the property of the spouse who owns it, with limited exceptions. Without going into too much detail, separate property is acquired by one spouse before the marriage. Or, it was obtained as a gift or inheritance during the marriage.
Marital property is all assets and property acquired during the course of the marriage and it is subject to division. However, even if property is “marital” in nature, that doesn’t mean it will be divided equally. New York is an equitable division state, which means marital property is divided in a manner that is fair considering the circumstances.
You may be wondering how your assets are going to be divided. It depends on a number of factors and each divorce is different. Courts will look at the age and health of both spouses, the length of the marriage, each spouse’s earning capacity, and so on.
It can sound unpredictable, but New York’s equitable distribution system is one of the key reasons why it’s so important to have a good divorce lawyer. At Goldweber Ebstein LLP, we can focus on the distribution factors that are in your favor and minimize the ones that are not. By taking a proactive approach, you are in a better position and not entirely at the mercy of the court when it comes to dividing your assets in a divorce.
To speak with a knowledgeable member of our divorce team, contact our New York City divorce law firm to schedule a consultation.