When going through a divorce, the division of property can feel like a daunting and challenging task. Everything from cash to investments to the house, and everything in it has to be divided in a way that accords with New York law and is fair to each spouse. Guilford Law Group, PLLC is committed to helping our clients achieve the equitable outcome that the law requires, and they deserve.
Contact our Manhattan equitable distribution lawyer at (646) 783-0074 or reach out here online for help in negotiation a fair property division. We work with both English and Spanish-speaking clients, serving all five boroughs of New York City and throughout Rockland County and Westchester County.
The first step is to decide whether a piece of property is marital or separate. The latter belongs exclusively to one spouse. The former belongs to both spouses equally.
Determining what property is jointly owned and what property belongs to one person has an easier benchmark that people might realize. It’s not about who likes a certain asset more, or who went out of their way to acquire it. It’s not even about whether one spouse was completely unsupportive of acquiring the asset to begin with. None of that matters from the perspective of law.
The only thing that matters is this—when was the asset acquired? If it was before the wedding, then it is the separate property of the spouse who brought it into the marriage. If it’s marital property, it belongs jointly to the marriage.
That’s a basic enough dividing line, although we should point out that there are some assets where this can still become complicated. Let’s say one spouse brought a substantial investment portfolio into the marriage. On that basis, the portfolio is separate property. But what if, over the years of the marriage, additional funds were invested? Those funds were likely marital property, meaning that any change in value that resulted from their investment is also marital property.
That which has been classified as marital property is then subject to equitable distribution. It’s important to understand that equitable, as a legal definition, does not mean equal. It is not required that martial property be divided 50/50, only that it be divided fairly. Who decides what constitutes fairness? If the spouses are unable to reach agreement in negotiation or mediation, the answer to that question is a family law judge.
Several factors go into determining what makes for an equitable settlement. The length of the marriage will be one factor, as will the age and health of each spouse. A spouse who may have earned less income due to responsibilities such as parenting or caring for elderly parents, needs to be treated fairly, both in equitable distribution and spousal maintenance (alimony). Assets that are impractical to split up (a business, a house, etc.) have to be incorporated into an overall settlement plan that is fair.
The terms of a property division will play a substantial role in shaping the quality of a spouse’s life in the years to come. Our Manhattan equitable distribution lawyer will apply a diligent review of all financial details, strategic thinking on negotiating, and strong advocacy for their client’s best interests. Call our office today at (646) 783-0074 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
He is extremely diligent but more importantly he is very caring and results-driven.- R.C.