Chester Divorce Attorney Manages Division of Property in New York

Meticulous care leads to positive results in the equitable distribution process

New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that in a divorce, marital property is divided in a way that is fair but not necessarily equal. Opinions on which property is marital and whether a division is fair can vary widely, so it’s important to have a qualified advocate on your side. At Meth Law Offices, PC in Chester, I have represented countless divorce clients in property disputes. When it comes to the division of marital assets in New York, I have the depth of knowledge and experience to pursue the best possible results.

Separate property vs marital property

The first step in the equitable distribution process is to fully disclose all property, which includes both assets and debts. Since you can only get a fair outcome with fair input, I use the discovery process to ensure your spouse is not hiding assets. Once we have a full, transparent disclosure, we proceed with determining whether assets are separate or marital property.

Separate property generally consists of:

  • Assets and debt you accumulated prior to the marriage
  • Growth in value or profits from separate property during the marriage
  • Inheritances and gifts received during the marriage

However, if you “commingled” your separate property with other assets — effectively treating it as marital property — the court may decide your spouse has an equitable interest in that property. Instead of being excluded from the equitable distribution process, it will be placed in the marital estate.

Issues with valuation of marital property

Once the contents of marital estate are known, there must be a value assigned to each item. This can be complicated if the estate contains items of subjective value, such as real estate, a family business, luxury vehicles and fine art. Parties often hire their own appraisers, who can reach different valuations. A judge must then decide whether to accept one valuation or to split the difference.

Factors used to determine distribution of assets in New York

Courts rely on statutory factors and any relevant facts when deciding how much of the marital estate each party should get. These factors include the length of the marriage and each spouse’s contribution to the accumulation and preservation of wealth and to the household. As your Chester NY divorce lawyer, I call the court’s attention to all relevant factors that support your property division claims.

What is the impact of premarital agreements on property division in NY?

The primary purpose of a premarital agreement is to settle property matters in the event of a divorce. A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can certainly expedite the process and help the couple avoid litigation. If the agreement is valid, the court generally will accept it. However, even a valid agreement may not fully determine the distribution of property. Given the passage of time, the agreement may not cover all the property in question or changed circumstances due to commingling. Moreover, spouses sometimes challenge prenups, alleging coercion or duress. So, even if you have a premarital agreement, you still need a skilled and determined advocate on your side to protect your rights.

To learn more about property rights, contact a Chester divorce lawyer for a free consultation

Meth Law Offices, PC helps divorcing clients protect their property rights during the equitable distribution process in Chester and throughout Orange County. Please call 845-610-6595 or contact me online for a free initial consultation.