Equitable distribution is a method of dividing property at the time of divorce. Property assets are either considered marital property, or property acquired while married, or separate property, property acquired before the marriage. Depending on your state, your property will either be divided according to community property laws or equitable distribution. New York is considered an equitable distribution state. Today, we review what equitable distribution is and how it relates to the process of divorce.
How Is Equitable Distribution Different Than Community Property?
The main difference between community property and equitable distribution is that in community property states, property acquired during the marriage will be divided 50-50. In equitable distribution states when property is divided it is not necessarily split 50-50. Instead, the court divides property in a manner it deems fair.
What Factors Will a Judge Consider Before Dividing Property?
To be able to fairly divide marital property, a judge will consider the following factors:
- Duration of the marriage
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Each spouse’s income level
- Property each spouse owned when they were married
- Future financial circumstances of each spouse
- If one spouse wastefully dissipated marital assets
- Need of the parent with custody of the children to live in the marital home
- Whether alimony is awarded
- If either spouse has a fair claim to marital property (based on the spouse’s contributions)
- Health insurance and inheritance rights either spouse may lose because of the divorce
- Liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property
- Tax consequences of each spouse
- Whether one spouse transferred marital property in contemplation of divorce without fair consideration
- Any other factor the court finds just
What Property Is Subject to Equitable Distribution?
Marital property is subject to equitable distribution, which may include but is not limited to the following:
- Each spouse’s income that was earned during marriage
- Property purchased
- Automobiles, boats, furniture, art, jewelry, and other valuables
- Retirement benefits
- Appreciation of marital property (while the couple was married)
How Property Is Divided in a New York Divorce
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement, you can decide how you would like to divide your property. If this is not possible, a judge will do so for you based on the factors reviewed above. If you signed a prenuptial agreement, the court needs to adhere to the provisions in the agreement.
Contact our firm online or call us at (516) 406-8381 to schedule a consultation if you need assistance with your New York divorce.