Ending a marriage is not easy. There are often painful emotions, complex logistical elements and a confusing legal system to navigate, which can be overwhelming. This can be especially true when it comes to the financial elements of divorce, like property division.
Dividing assets is typically one of the more complicated aspects of the process. Both parties want what they deserve, but they typically don't agree on what that means. However, understanding some basic facts about the process and laws in New York can help you manage your expectations and make informed decisions.
Property division is equitable
In this state, the courts divide property equitably. This means fairly, which is not the same as equally. That said, in many cases, the division of assets is roughly equal. However, certain factors could result in one person getting a larger percentage, like financial misconduct by the other party.
Not all property is eligible for division
Separate property typically is not eligible for division. This can include inheritances, gifts to one person and any property you owned before the marriage and kept separate during your marriage. If you have a prenuptial agreement in place, chances are that it spells out any separate property that you or the other person owns.
You may not divide every marital asset
When dividing assets and debts, you probably won't divide everything in half and give each person his or her share. This could work with bank accounts, but when it comes to real estate, retirement plans and other complex assets, physically dividing them may not be feasible. Instead, you will assign values to these assets and liabilities and then distribute them in such a way that each person has his or her fair share of the marital property.
Considering all that is at stake when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, it is not unusual for fights to erupt. Parties might disagree on the value of property, whether something is separate or marital property, or what an equitable agreement looks like. Thankfully, you don't have to figure all this out on your own; you can work with attorneys and financial professionals to help you secure a fair settlement.