There’s a good chance that your marriage dissolution is going to be the biggest financial transaction that you engage in during your lifetime. A lifetime’s worth of wealth may be subject to division, and you might be on course to argue the merits of alimony and child support.
With so much on the line, you need to know what you’re getting yourself into and how to effectively develop legal arguments that position you for success.
Your first stop is understanding how property is divided in New York divorces. So, let’s take a closer look at how state law will apply to your set of circumstances.
A primer on equitable distribution
Under New York law, marital assets are divided in an equitable fashion when a couple divorces. A lot of people think that this means that the marital estate has to be split down the middle. This isn’t the case. Instead, the court will focus on splitting assets in a way that is fair under the facts at hand.
But what factors will the court consider? That’s a good question. Here are some of the biggest characteristics of your situation that the court will pay particularly close attention to:
- The length of your marriage
- The health of each spouse
- Whether the custodial parent needs the family home or other assets in order to provide appropriate care to the children
- The contributions made to the acquisition of marital assets
- Whether spousal support has been ordered
- Each spouse’s financial positioning post-divorce
- Whether one spouse squandered assets away during the marriage
- The existence of any domestic violence
This is by no means an exhaustive list of what the court will consider in your case. In fact, the law allows the court to take any other facts that it deems relevant to its determination into consideration.
As you prepare to enter the property division phase of your divorce, you should make sure that you’re able to clearly articulate and advocate for the outcome that you want.
Don’t forget about separate property
It’s also important to remember that only the marital estate will be subjected to equitable division. So, if you can show that you individually own certain assets, then you might be able to keep them for yourself once your marriage dissolution is finalized.
On the flip side, you might want to try to loop certain assets into the marital estate that your spouse claims are individually owned so that you can have greater access to the financial resources that you need.
The determination of marital versus individual property can be complex, though. Oftentimes commingling of assets and allowing a spouse to make improvements upon an asset will transform individually owned assets into marital property. Therefore, you’ll want to be careful with how you handle your individually owned assets and be thorough in assessing those assets that your spouse has identified as individually owned.
Have a strong property division plan in place for your divorce
Whether you think you can negotiate resolution to your property division or that you’ll have to fight your spouse in court over the matter, there are ways to position yourself for a successful outcome. You just have to know the law, have a command of the facts, and be able to craft persuasive legal arguments.
That can be hard to do, of course, especially when you’re trying to cope with the emotional fallout of your marriage’s dissolution. But there are lots of resources out there that can get you started.