Articles Posted in Equitable Distribution

When a court sets out to divide a couple’s assets in a New York divorce case, the court will not simply split the assets down the middle, but instead it will employ aOutsidequarrelcouple-300x200 system called “equitable distribution.” Under an equitable distribution analysis, a court considers several factors when determining the allocation of assets. Importantly, however, only certain assets that are determined to be “marital property” are subject to equitable distribution. Thus, a party’s separate assets – i.e., those that were obtained before the marriage – will remain with the party to whom they originally belonged.

As a general matter, under the New York Domestic Relations Law, courts will consider assets that were accumulated during a marriage as marital property. Of course, certain exceptions can make the determination of what constitutes marital property fairly complex. For example, a question that often arises is how courts consider pension benefits and the provision of future health care benefits.

Pension Benefits Are Usually Subject to Equitable Distribution

The pension benefits that a party accrues while married will typically be held to be a marital asset that is subject to equitable distribution. The portion of benefits that was obtained before the marriage, however, will not be included as marital property because it was accrued before the marriage.

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Divorce is a complicated process at the best of times, but when you’ve got a narcissistic personality to deal with throughout the entire experience, it can feel like you’re two steps away from tearing your hair out. These people make it feel as though you’ll never be able to move on with your life because they go out of their way to make the settlement as complicated as possible. Narcissists refuse to relinquish their control over a former partner, and that makes coming to terms on things like equitable distribution, maintenance, and more incredibly tricky.

according to “LiveAbout.com“, the characteristics of a narcissist might include:

  • An overwhelming need to be right
  • An obsession with control
  • A lack of interest in negotiation
  • No ability to feel remorse
  • Wants to be admired and respected
  • May go out of their way to slow down the divorce procedure
  • Hangs onto resentment and negative feelings

So, how do you deal with a narcissist in a divorce? The simplest solution is to prepare yourself for a bumpy road.

Dealing with a Narcissist in Divorce

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When it comes to dividing up assets after a New York divorce, New York is an equitable distribution state. This means that, rather than dividing up a couple’s assets straight down the middle, if a court needs to resolve the issue, a court will consider a number of factors to ensure that the marital assets are divided fairly. However, only marital assets are subject t0 an equitable distribution analysis.A spouse’s separate property — such as that which was owned prior to the marriage — will not generally be considered marital property. However, property acquired throughout the marriage, including a businesses started during the marriage, is usually considered to be a marital asset that will be subject to equitable distribution.

In addition to the distribution of marital assets, a court may also order that one spouse pay post-divorce maintenance to the other spouse. The determination of how much spousal maintenance is appropriate is governed to some extent by formula, but it is left largely up to the discretion of the judge overseeing the divorce.

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New York is an equitable distribution state. Thus, when it comes to dividing up a couple’s assets in a New York divorce case, the court will consider a number of factors. However, before the court gets to the point of dividing up the assets, it needs to determine which assets are subject to the equitable distribution rules.Only marital property is subject to equitable distribution. And as a general matter, property that is determined to be the “separate property” of one spouse will remain with that spouse. Courts use a common-sense approach when determining whether property is marital or separate property. Under New York Domestic Relations Law section 13-236, separate property includes property acquired before the marriage and property that was gifted to one spouse by someone other than the other spouse.

In addition, “property acquired in exchange for [separate property] or the increase in value of separate property” will be considered separate property unless the increase in value is due in part to the “contributions or efforts of the other spouse.” This last category of separate property is often the subject of much dispute. A landmark case decided by the New York Court of Appeals set forth the framework regarding how courts view these claims.

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When most people get married, they take into account their prospective spouse’s financial situation. Indeed, to some degree, it would be foolhardy not to take this information into account, given that in most cases a married couple acts as an economic partnership, sharing in both income and expenses. Indeed, New York courts take this reality into account when it comes to dividing up assets following a New York divorce proceeding.The idea behind the economic partnership model of marriage is important to grasp when it comes to understanding how courts divide assets following a New York divorce. New York is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the court does not merely divide up all assets 50/50 and send the parties on their way. Instead, courts take into account a number of factors in determining how to divide a couple’s assets.

New York Domestic Relations Law Article 13 section 236 outlines the criteria courts use to equitably distribute assets after a divorce. In all, the statute lists 13 considerations, including the duration of the marriage, as well as the age, income, and education of the parties. Courts will also consider the sacrifices one spouse made for the benefit of the couple. In addition, courts are able to consider “any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper.”

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When a couple goes through a New York divorce proceeding, the court is tasked with dividing up the couple’s assets and liabilities. While this may seem intuitively simple, in practice, dividing up assets and liabilities that have accrued over the course of a relationship can be exceedingly complex. In New York, courts use a method called equitable distribution to do this.When a judge uses equitable division to divide up assets and liabilities, the judge takes into account many factors about the couple, including their roles in the marriage, level of education, income-earning potential, and future obligations. The judge will generally not include separate assets or liabilities that were obtained or taken on prior to the marriage.

Back in 2009, the New York Court of Appeals issued an important decision discussing how lower courts should equitably distribute certain assets and liabilities.

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The process of divorce isn’t just complicated because it creates a lot of uncomfortable emotions for the people involved.While the stress, sadness, and anger that can emerge during the divorce process can be difficult to manage for some, another important thing to remember is that it’s crucial to ensure you’ve covered all the different elements that you need to think about as a divorce takes place. Using an alternative resolution process like mediation can help minimize the emotional turmoil by avoiding an adversarial process. In mediation, like any process though, parties will need to consider how they’re going to manage child custody and visitation agreements, while others will need to think about how they can address the equitable distribution of debts and assets between both parties.

As a divorce attorney, child custody lawyer, and an experienced mediator, I attempt to offer my clients as many options as possible when it comes to helping them decide how to simplify divorce and prepare for the next stage of their life. Often, mediation can emerge as a less combative solution for coming to decisions about everything from spousal support to asset distribution. Because there are no cemented rules in place for how a mediation should take place, every session I conduct is shaped by the parties that are involved. After all, just as every couple, individual, and family is unique, every mediation session should be one-of-a-kind too. Continue reading

Addressing your Most Frequently Asked Divorce QuestionsAs a divorce attorney, I do my best to keep my clients informed and educated about each step of their divorce procedure. Often, this means answering some of the most common questions that might arise about the complications of marriage dissolution. To help people facing family law issues to address some of the most typical concerns surrounding divorce, I’ve put together this list of some frequently asked divorce questions that I have answered in my previous blogs and web site pages.  Child custody, parenting time, child support, maintenance (spousal support) are important issues that need to be decided in a divorce as well but I do not discuss them in today’s blog.

Question 1: What Are New York Divorce Residency Requirements?

Parties to a divorce in New York must meet the residency requirements for the state, or their case may be dismissed. To apply for a divorce, residents must meet with the following requirements:

  • The marriage ceremony must have taken place in New York, and one spouse must have had legal residence for at least one year prior to action taking place.
  • Both spouses lived as a married couple in New York, and one or both residents has been considered a resident for at least one year prior to action taking place.
  • The grounds for divorce took place in New York, and at least one spouse has been a resident for at least one year prior to action taking place.
  • The grounds for divorce took place in New York and both spouses were residents at that time.
  • At least one spouse was living in New York as a resident for at least 2 years prior to filing the case.

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When a marriage is ending, unless there is a valid agreement between the parties, it is left up to the judge to determine the financial responsibilities of the parties in what they call in New York equitable distribution. In most cases, this requires the judge to figure out all of the marital assets as well as the marital debts. Student-loan debt is no exception; however, calculating which party is responsible for the payment of student-loan debt may be more complicated that it initially seems.

Student-Loan Debt Incurred Before the Marriage

As a general rule, student-loan debt that is incurred prior to the marriage is not considered a marital debt, and the party who took the loan out will be solely responsible for the payment of that debt. However, student-loan debt that is incurred during the marriage presents a more difficult situation and often requires the court to apply a multi-faceted test to determine which percentage of the debt, if any, is attributable to the spouse who did not incur the debt.

Student-Loan Debt Incurred During the Marriage

Under New York case law that was decided prior to the 2015-2016 updates to the New York Domestic Relations law student-loan debt may be considered marital debt that is subject to equitable distribution, depending on all of the surrounding circumstances. However, prior to the 2015-2016 update to the New York Domestic Relations law this used to also means that the degree or professional license that was obtained through the procurement of the debt may also be subject to equitable distribution.  The updated Domestic Relations law, however, specifically changed the law to say that degrees were not subject to equitable distribution.  In one of my next blogs we will examine whether the change to the New York Domestic Relations Law about degrees being subject to equitable distribution has altered the landscape about student loan debt.

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Equitable distribution is one of the matters that I deal with most often as a divorce attorney for New York and LongIsland. Though all the intricacies involved in equitable distribution can be a concept that’s difficult to understand without a background in family law, it can become more challenging when an individual is facing the concerns of splitting unique elements, such as retirement benefits.

It’s relatively well know that the marital portions of retirement plans like 401ks, pensions and deferred compensation plans,  are typically subject to equitable distribution in the case of a divorce. However, determining the right course of action can become more complex when it comes to disability pensions. After all, the divorce lawyers and the New York courts in cases of disagreements need to determine whether the asset is one that was accumulated during the marriage and what is appropriate as far as equitable distribution, or something that should be regarded like a personal injury award. Continue reading