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NYC Property Division/Equitable Distribution Lawyers

One important issue that is addressed during a divorce proceeding is the division of matrimonial property. Arguments and disagreements over the equitable distribution of property can easily turn the case into a contested divorce. It’s common for spouses who are getting divorced to have different opinions over the division of property, and things can go sour if both parties don’t get what they want.


Equitable Distribution


This is a method to share property between two spouses during divorce. Initially, New York followed the common law property principle. In this property system assets were divided in court depending on the title of ownership. The named spouse in the title received the property. However, New York has now adopted the equitable distribution principle. This means that after a couple gets divorced marital property is divided equally and fairly. This doesn’t always mean an equal division of the assets, but a fair Outcome. The judge bases his or her division on who gets what by considering:


  • The income of each spouse and the property acquired during the marriage to the date the divorce was filed
  • The health and age of each spouse
  • The length of the marriage
  • If the court has already awarded alimony
  • Health insurance, pension, their value, and rights to inheritance that both spouses will lose after the divorce.
  • The need for the spouse with child custody to inherit the matrimonial home and its effects
  • If either of the spouses has transferred any matrimonial property after contemplating the divorce, and without fairly considering the other partner
  • Tax deductions of each spouse
  • The financial situations and future of each spouse
  • Whether both spouses have equitable claim over the matrimonial property
  • Other factors that the court deems important and that require proper consideration

Property That is Subjected to Equal Distribution


The court only divides matrimonial property, and each spouse has the right to retain their separate property. Marital property includes everything that both spouses have acquired when married. This is regardless of who holds the title, income of each spouse, and property purchased with that money during marriage, property purchased while married, for instance, a car or house, appreciation of their properties, and the retirement benefits that both spouses have earned during the marriage are all categorized as marital property.


Separate Property


The domestic relation laws in Section 236B are also referred to as Equitable Distribution Laws, and they clearly define marital and separate property. During a divorce, separate property isn’t divided except in a situation when one spouse has contributed to the development of the other partners’ property. Separate property comprises:


  • Any property that either spouse has received as a gift or inheritance from the other spouse
  • Property that is categorized as separate property in a prenuptial agreement
  • Property acquired before marriage
  • Money received after a personal injury settlement
  • Assets that are acquired from proceeds of separate property except if appreciation of the separate property was partly due to contributions and efforts of the other partner

Equal Distribution of a Professional Practice or Family Business


Professional practices, businesses, and other earning capacities that are attributed to the attainment of a professional license, career, and educational degree are also considered as property and are subject to a fair distribution between two spouses. However, in some cases the interests in a career or business can be difficult to divide, and sometimes it is undesirable to do that. In such a situation, the spouse who is running the business is awarded the family business or practice and the other spouse is awarded property to satisfy both parties.


Under the New York law, all property, money, and assets that are acquired during marriage are considered as marital property and should be divided equally. Equitable distribution means that because marriage is similar to a joint venture, both parties in the marriage have a right to claim assets and property acquired in the marriage in a fair and equitable manner. Therefore, before you proceed to file for a divorce it’s advisable that you consult a qualified NYC property division lawyer to protect your interests and rights during the division of marital property.

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