Navigating the complexities of divorce is never easy. Among the myriad of concerns that arise, one of the most pressing is the division of property. In New York State, the process of property division is governed by a principle known as “equitable distribution.” This principle, while aiming for fairness, doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split. Instead, it seeks a distribution that is just and equitable for both parties. If you’re going through a divorce, you need a competent Rochester lawyer experienced with divorce property division in your corner who can effectively fight for your hard-earned assets.
Property Division Lawyer | Serving Clients in Rochester, NY
Given the complexities surrounding property division during a divorce, having an experienced Rochester family lawyer by your side is invaluable. Our firm can provide clarity on what constitutes marital vs. separate property, advocate for your interests during the distribution process, and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way.
Marital vs. Separate Property in a Divorce
Before diving into the intricacies of equitable distribution, it’s crucial to understand the distinction between marital and separate property.
- Marital Property: Subject to certain exceptions as stated below in Separate Property, this encompasses all assets acquired by either spouse during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the title. Common examples include homes, cars, retirement accounts, businesses, and even debts accrued during the marriage.
- Separate Property: These are assets that one spouse owned before the marriage or acquired during the marriage through inheritance, personal gifts, or compensation for personal injuries. Additionally, any property that the couple agrees to classify as separate, through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, falls under this category.
Equitable Distribution in New York State
New York’s approach to property division is rooted in the belief that a marriage is an economic partnership. When that partnership ends, the assets and debts should be divided fairly. However, “fairly” doesn’t always translate to “equally.”
Equitable distribution requires a comprehensive evaluation of the couple’s financial situation. The court will first determine what property is marital and what is separate. Once that’s established, the marital property will be divided based on various factors, ensuring that both parties walk away with a fair share.
Factors Courts Consider When Distributing Property
The division of property isn’t a straightforward mathematical calculation. Instead, the courts in New York State consider a multitude of factors to ensure an equitable distribution. Some of these factors include:
- Duration of the Marriage: A longer marriage might mean more intertwined finances and assets, which can influence the division process.
- Age and Health of Both Parties: The court might consider the future financial needs and health concerns of each spouse.
- Income and Property of Each Spouse: This includes the potential future financial circumstances of each party.
- Need for a Custodial Parent to Occupy the Marital Residence: If the best interest of the child(ren) has been served by one parent having primary custody, they might be granted the marital home to provide stability for the children.
- Loss of Inheritance and Pension Rights: The court might consider what each party might have received had the marriage continued.
- Contributions to the Acquisition of Marital Property: This includes both financial contributions and non-financial ones, such as homemaking.
- Any Waste or Dissipation of Marital Assets: If one spouse recklessly or wrongfully spent or wasted marital assets, the court might adjust the distribution accordingly.
- Tax Consequences: The court will consider the tax implications of any property division.
- Any Other Factors the Court Deems Relevant: This catch-all provision allows the court to consider unique circumstances that might not fit neatly into the other categories.
Contact a New York Property Division Lawyer Today
If you’re going through a divorce, you need a competent property division lawyer in your corner who can effectively fight for your best interests. With the right legal guidance, you can navigate this challenging process and secure a financial future that reflects your contributions and needs. Contact Lacy Katzen LLP today for guidance.