Equitable Distribution in New York
Equitable Distribution is How Marital Property Is Divided in a New York Divorce
When a divorce is granted in New York, the marital property will be equitably distributed between the parties pursuant to New York’s equitable distribution law. This law considers that a marriage is, among other things, an “economic partnership” to which both parties contribute – whether that contribution is made as a spouse, parent, wage earner and/or homemaker.
It is important to understand that equitable distribution does not always mean the 50/50 division of assets. Instead the property will be distributed in a manner that the Court deems to be equitable or “fair”. A couple’s property will either be categorized as separate property, martial property, or a potential combination that includes both marital and separate property components. Once the marital property has been determined through discovery (i.e. exchange of financial information, depositions of parties and potential non-party witnesses, and expert reports/information where necessary), the marital property will be distributed in a fair and equitable manner.
Property in a matrimonial action can include:
- Real Estate
- Bank Accounts
- Stock Accounts
- Stock Options
- Retirement Accounts (Including Pensions, IRA’s, 401K’s, and 403B’s)
- Business Interests
- Art Collections
- Equine interests and farms
- Art collections
The Difference Between Separate Property & Marital Property
Separate property can be described as any property that belongs to one spouse only (Whether it was accrued prior to the marriage or by certain other avenues accrued during the marriage. It is also important to note that separate property can be considered marital property if it has been co-mingled with marital assets or it has appreciated in value during the marriage due to the efforts of the other spouse.
In New York, separate property may include any of the following:
- Property acquired before the start of the marriage
- Property acquired by bequest, devise or gift from someone other than your spouse
- Property described as separate property in a written agreement
- Property acquired with separate property that has not been comingled with marital property
- Financial compensation received for personal injuries
Disclosing Financial Information During Your Divorce
Under New York’s Equitable Distribution law, when seeking a divorce, both parties are required to disclose all information about their respective finances so the court can make a fair determination about the distribution of their marital property – as well as appropriate levels of support.