Equitable Distribution

Marriage entails so much more than merely two people coming together. It is also the merger of both spouses’ assets and property. Splitting assets in a divorce can be problematic. You’ll want to enlist a White Plains, NY equitable distribution lawyer for help navigating the intricacies of what happens to your property and assets during the separation.


If you are dealing with divorce proceedings in New York, you’ll require a skilled family law attorney to counsel you and aggressively push for your property and financial interests. There’s too much on the line to simply consent to a settlement that threatens your financial freedom or favors the other spouse.


At Douglas Family Law Group in White Plains, NY, our equitable distribution attorneys are on hand to assist you to account for, valuate, characterize, and classify all property that may be subject to division, together with assets that are separately owned. We will then assist you to petition the court or negotiate for your rightful share for your rightful share of marital property and protect your personal assets.


Our legal team is well-versed in this aspect of Family Law and you can depend on them to deal with the complex issues surrounding asset and property division. Our White Plains, NY divorce attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group will guide you through the property division process and ensure you get favorable results.


Allow our experienced divorce attorneys to safeguard your rights and secure your future. You can contact our New York law offices at 914-615-9058 to arrange a consultation and talk through your legal needs with a seasoned property division attorney. 




How Does Equitable Distribution Work in New York?

During divorce proceedings in New York, marital property is equitably split in a process referred to as equitable distribution. This equitable distribution doctrine implies that marital property must be split fairly between the separating partners. This does not necessarily mean a 50-50 division. However, the distribution cannot be performed until property and assets are categorized as separate or marital.


As a general rule, assets obtained during the marriage are deemed to be marital property and are thus subject to distribution. Property/individual assets obtained before the marriage are classified as separate, as are the possessions obtained during the marriage that were understood or designated as belonging to one partner (such as inheritance or family gifts).


When deciding which assets go to which spouse, New York courts consider a range of variables, including each partner’s contribution, a partner’s separate property, earning potential, income, and more.


Equitable distribution of property, especially in instances where parties have a significant net worth can be very complex and needs the expertise of a legally knowledgeable and financially adept lawyer.




What Are Marital Property and Separate Property?

What is considered separate and marital property can be a subject of great dispute between divorcing partners in the state of New York. In a nutshell, only marital assets and property can be split among the parting spouses. Separate property will stay with its respective owner.


It is integral that you understand which is which when figuring out how to split your assets in a divorce. So, let’s briefly review marital property vs. separate property.




Marital Property

In the absence of a marital agreement like a prenuptial agreement, any assets obtained by either partner during the marriage are assumed to be marital property. This includes real or financial assets regardless of whose name the asset is under.


Examples of marital property include:


  • Stocks, cash, bank accounts, pensions, or retirement accounts you and your partner obtained during the lifespan of your marriage.
  • Real assets obtained or bought during the lifespan of the marriage, unless one partner bought that property or asset with their separate finances.
  • Business or companies founded during the marriage union.
  • Property such as furniture, artwork, jewelry, boats, and vehicles that you and your partner bought during the lifespan of your marriage.



Separate Property

At the time of getting married, each spouse usually has his/her own investments, property, or cash savings. This is referred to as separate property and is not divided in a divorce.


Examples of separate property include:


  • Any reparation granted for personal injury during the marriage, not affiliated with earning capacity or lost wages.
  • Any asset classified as separate property in a postnuptial or prenuptial agreement.
  • Personal property (such as jewelry, artwork, or vehicles) that you obtained or bought prior to getting married.
  • Property obtained through inheritance or gift (from someone besides your spouse) during the marriage.
  • Real property acquired or owned before getting married.
  • Bank accounts and other investment assets acquired prior to getting married that are not intertwined with marital property.

When you decide to legally separate, you and your partner will need to be on the same page regarding what is separate property and what is marital property. But if you cannot reach a consensus, the court will make a verdict on which property is which.


Unless otherwise decided, your separate property will be considered yours. Our property division attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group can advocate for your interests.




How Does an Equitable Distribution Lawyer Determine Property Values?

Who receives what property is among the perennial questions that pop up during divorce proceedings. Many New York family courts prefer that matters dealing with property division be handled through negotiation between the separating spouses.

Even if the divorce is most amicable, the disputing parties usually put contrasting valuations on the properties to be distributed. When finding a middle ground on property allocation and valuation becomes improbable, it is usually best for the separating couple’s lawyers to draft a mutually agreeable contract.


Nevertheless, the final decision may be left to the presiding judge. But before that, here are some of the factors an equitable distribution attorney will consider when determining property value.


  • Marital assets
  • The potential future property value
  • Marital debt
  • If you or your spouse own a business.

It may be necessary to enlist professional appraisers to determine the value of some assets. Fortunately, our team at Douglas Family Law Group has many reliable valuation experts for a vast variety of asset-types.


It is important to note that neither spouse is allowed to reduce, destroy, or waste the value of marital property during divorce proceedings. Should it happen, the judge may decrease that partner’s portion to reimburse for the loss he/she caused.


A comprehensive understanding of your goals and interests and the core facts surrounding your marital property vision claim is an integral part of attaining equitable property division. The New York equitable distribution attorneys at Douglas Family Law Group can help provide the correct valuation of what is owed to you.




What is the Process of Dividing Property?

New York judges have considerable power to make equitable property distribution. When a judge is dividing the marital property of a divorcing couple, they will consider the following factors before giving a final decision as structured under New York’s doctrine of equitable distribution.



Property and Income of Each Spouse

The judge will consider the total property and income of each spouse at the time of getting married and at the time of separation.


The judge will look at each partner’s assets, income, and earning ability. Whichever partner earns less and owns less property may get a larger share of the marital property since the other partner can make a fresh start more easily.



Length of the Marriage, and the Age and Health of Each Spouse

The longer the marriage, the more likely that both parties have grown to depend on an economic partnership. Similarly, a less healthy or older partner may require additional financial security compared to a spouse that is healthier or younger.



Child Custody

If there are minor children involved, this can impact what happens to the house. The judge can make a verdict that the home be sold and the earnings split in a designated manner.


The judge can also order that the custodial parent of the child or children be permitted to remain in the house until the children grow up. In the case of a joint custody scenario, the judge can order the home to be sold.



Spousal Maintenance

The judge will take into account the effect paying spousal maintenance will have on the paying partner’s financial security and also the impact it will have on the spouse getting the money when determining how to divide assets.



Each Spouse's Contributions

The judge will look at each spouse’s direct and indirect contributions to the couple’s financial situation. Examples include doing renovations on the home or making the house down payment using separate property.


If one spouse is primarily responsible for parenting and household work, how has this benefitted the career of the other partner?



Difficulty in Liquidating or Dividing Marital Assets

Liquid property is property that can easily be converted into cash. There are times when assets can’t be sold for cash easily, or when dividing property is impossible or extremely difficult. A judge can consider this and order an exchange of credit or property, rather than mandating the property be sold.



Each Spouse's Future Financial Situation

The judge will have to predict how each partner will fare financially in the future and weigh this when splitting the marital property.


There was a scenario when the court granted a wife 80% of their marital property as she was not educated and wasn’t in a position earn more while her husband was better qualified to get employed.



Tax Ramifications

The court must take into account the tax implications of any property distribution, even though it is often up to partners to present evidence as to the tax consequences of the distribution of marital property. When a judge gives a ruling that particular possessions be sold and split between the parties, the separating spouses will incur an equal share of the resulting tax liability.

Waste of Marital Property During the Divorce

It is important to note that neither spouse is allowed to reduce, destroy, or waste the value of marital property during the divorce proceedings. Should this happen, the judge may decrease that partner’s portion to reimburse for the loss they caused.


The judge will consider whether a partner offloaded marital assets for less than the actual value during the divorce proceedings.



Transfer of Assets to Gain an Unfair Advantage

In a scenario where one partner transfers or disposes of assets to gain an unfair edge, the judge can award more to the other party to make up for this underhanded behavior.



Other Factors

The judge can take into account other important factors. One common question is who was at fault for the divorce matters in property divison.


The stipulation is that ‘marital fault’, which means behavior that damages the marriage and leads to the dissolution of the marriage, shouldn’t be taken into account. However, if the behavior is egregious, it may be taken into consideration.


Alternatively, the judge may take into account how one spouse has hurt the couple’s finances through wasteful spending, etc.




Why Choose Our Equitable Distribution Lawyers in New York?

At Douglas Family Law Group, we have vast experience in all facets of family law and the laws governing equitable distribution in New York. We provide strategic representation centered on safeguarding the financial interests and rights of our clients undergoing a divorce.


Before you start the property settlement negotiations, it is in your interests to understand your options, rights, and obligations.


Our divorce attorneys have an expansive knowledge of complicated property division involving savings accounts, retirement investments, family businesses, home and other real estate, high-asset divorce, stocks, bonds, and executive interests. 


Our seasoned New York Equitable Distribution Lawyer will assist you to navigate all aspects of property division including:


  •  Accurately valuing every asset
  • Tracing and listing all property, including hidden assets
  • Handling the division or protection of assets
  • Ascertaining equitable distribution of essential assets, including pensions and retirement accounts
  • Pushing for property that may be dear to you, like the matrimonial home
  • Appropriately assigning debt to make sure that separate debts are not split unfairly between the partners.




Call Douglas Family Law Group for Help With Your Equitable Distribution

Chances are that in the course of your marriage, you may not keep track of the daily increments you make in life and may have more assets and property than you know. And without the expert legal aid of a lawyer, you can easily overlook some things and consent to a property division that favors your spouse.


To prevent this from happening, put our skills and know-how to use. Our legal team will always work toward getting you the best possible deal in your situation. We will listen to your questions and come up with appropriate strategies that help you attain your goals, resolve disputes, and safeguard your financial interests.


Our lawyers are well-versed in New York divorce laws and work in liaison with clients to get favorable outcomes. We can assist you to secure a good division of property and financial assets by taking the lead during negotiations. At Douglas Family Law Group, we have the experience, skills, knowledge, and resources you want to advocate for you.


Call us at 914-615-9058 to book a consultation with one of our divorce attorneys.




50 Main Street Suite 935

White Plains, New York 10606

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