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Equitable Distribution

With respect to issues surrounding equitable distribution, it is best to work with an attorney who will fight to make sure that you receive your fair share of the marital property.  Many people are not familiar with what is deemed marital property, some examples are: real estate purchased during the marriage; real purchased prior to the marriage which both parties paid for during the course of the marriage; the value of educational/professional degrees and/or any enhanced earning potential earned during the marriage; funds held in bank accounts; stocks, bonds, etc.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Nathan Pinkhasov, PLLC are knowledgeable and experienced in assessing which property will be deemed to be marital property by the Court and in negotiating fair settlements among parties as to the distribution of assets.

In New York, marriage is treated as a partnership and most property acquired during a marriage is considered property of the marriage and must be divided upon divorce.  This is true even if the property is in only one spouse’s name.

New York follows the doctrine of equitable distribution to divide property, meaning that the Court will divide a couple’s marital property fairly – not equally.  In deciding how to divide assets, although assets are often divided down the middle, the Court has the authority to give one party more and the other less when making its determination of what is fair.  In order to determine which assets to consider, the parties are required to submit Net Worth Statements to the Court.  This is a sworn statement outlining each party’s assets, liabilities, income and expenses.

The Equitable Distribution Law talks about two types of property for purposes of divorce: marital property and separate property. Marital property will be divided between the two spouses.  Marital Property: all property either spouse bought during the marriage, regardless of whose name is on the property. Pension plans and other retirement plans are considered marital property. The portion of marital property earned during the marriage will be divided by the court.  Separate Property: property a spouse owned before the marriage, or any inheritance or personal injury payments or gifts from someone other than the spouse during the marriage.

There are significant exceptions to the rule that property acquired during the marriage is marital property to be divided upon divorce.  Such exceptions include property acquired prior to marriage, property received through inheritance, and money received due to a personal injury claim. In order for these types of property to remain separate and not become marital property during the marriage, they must be kept separate and apart from the other spouse.  Simply depositing an inheritance into a joint bank account, for example, will likely be sufficient to convert the inheritance to marital property subject to division upon divorce.

Other important assets that are subject to equitable distribution are pension and retirement accounts with the portion of the asset that was acquired during the marriage considered marital property.  This rule may still be applied in the case of a couple that never legally separate or divorce, and continue to live apart for many years.