How Does Equitable Distribution Work?
Dividing assets in divorce can be the most contentious part of the legal process. Often this can come from a deep emotional attachment to a vacation home, a piece of art or something else of great value. New York is an equitable state, which means that marital assets are divided in a fair manner by a judge or through direct negotiation. Equitable is not the same as equal halves. Conversely, it is generally the rule that all property purchased during the marriage is marital property even when it is only in one person’s name.
Serving clients in Buffalo and western New York, the attorneys at Mattingly Cavagnaro LLP, focus on family and matrimonial law matters, and often how they specifically relate to asset division during divorce. We know that the circumstances of each family are different, yet we often handle the property division for large estates with highly complex investment portfolios and long lists of assets. We work with clients to determine their legal and financial goals and then work toward achieving or surpassing them. We have extensive experience in handling this matter in court, but we often find that couples negotiating in good faith can save themselves time and money by using mediation.
The goal of equitable distribution is to respect the contributions of each spouse during the marriage and determine what they need after the divorce. Factors to consider include:
- The income and assets of each spouse at the beginning of the marriage and at the date of the divorce filing
- The length of the marriage
- Whether maintenance has been awarded
- The living expenses and lifestyle of the couple during their marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The ability of each spouse to earn income
We never recommend that individuals try to hide assets in offshore accounts or through subterfuge. Forensic accountants and other professionals are trained to investigate suspicious financial practices, and the penalties and costs will be severe if you are caught. However, just as there are financial tools that can legally reduce taxes, there are certain legal strategies that can be employed to determine assets as separate, and thus not a marital asset to be divided.