New York is one of many states in the nation that follow an equitable division of property law when separating property in a divorce. This means that all property accumulated during the marriage is subject to division; however, it may not be equally divided in half, according to Financial Times.
Whether you choose to negotiate the terms of your settlement through mediation or leave the final decision to a judge through traditional litigation, it is critical to understand how property is divided in New York.
Marital vs. separate property
While marital property includes the family home, vehicles and bank account contents, it encompasses much more. Assets, including term life insurance policies, 401k plans, retirement accounts and stocks are included as well. Furthermore, lottery ticket winnings, antique collections, frequent flier miles, exclusive country club memberships and gifts you have exchanged with your spouse are considered marital property.
Separate property, on the other hand, involves items you had prior to becoming married. Even a home that bears only your name on the title is protected from division in the final settlement. Other assets, such as inheritance money and gifts given to you by a third party, may remain with you.
Factors to consider
Before the judge determines who receives what in the final settlement, he or she may consider several factors, including the following:
- Are children involved and who has primary custody
- How long did the marriage last
- What is the age, physical health and mental health of each party
- What is the occupation and income of each party
- What contribution did each parent make to the family
The judge may look at whether one parent stayed home and acted as the primary caretaker of the children while the other went to school or worked to further their career.
It is important that each party discloses all marital property in their possession. This ensures you receive everything you deserve in the final settlement.