When a married couple divorces, one of the major issues which must be addressed is the division of the assets and liabilities of the marriage. The Courts in New York consider marriage to be an emotional partnership, and an economic one as well.
The term “Equitable Distribution” is used to describe the division of all marital property and debt. The Court does not have authority to divide separate, or non-marital, property.
Marital property consists of virtually every asset or debt acquired by either spouse from the date of the marriage through the date a divorce action is commenced in Court. Separate property consists of almost every asset or debt owned by a party prior to the marriage, or acquired after a divorce action is commenced in Court. Inheritances, gifts made to a spouse, and awards for personal injuries are generally considered separate property regardless of when they are acquired. There are a few exceptions to these general rules, but to determine whether an exception applies in your case you must consult with an experienced family law attorney.
It is the responsibility of the Court to divide the assets and liabilities of the marriage when a divorce is granted. However, the parties are always permitted to agree to their own division of assets and liabilities, and the vast majority of divorce cases end with an agreement between the parties for the division of their property.
There are a number of factors a Court will consider in making an equitable distribution decision, and these factors are also used by the parties and their attorneys in trying to divide marital property through a negotiated agreement. Some of those factors are:
1. Duration of the marriage
2. Age and health of the parties
3. Financial and non-financial contributions each party has made
4. Current and future value of the asset or property in question
5. Debts and liabilities of the parties
6. Tax consequences of a proposed distribution
7. How and under what circumstances the asset or debt was acquired
We can counsel you in negotiating and drafting an agreement concerning equitable distribution, and advise you as to the legal and practical considerations involved in handling the division of marital property and debt. In addition, we can draft and submit to the Court an appropriate request to divide marital property and debt, and we can represent you in Court and conduct a hearing on any issue related to marital property.
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