Divorce is never a straightforward process. Beyond the emotional toll, the division of assets can become a significant point of contention. New York's principle guiding this division is called "equitable distribution." But what does this mean, and how does it impact the dissolution of a marriage?
What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable distribution is the legal principle that, during a divorce, all marital assets and debts should be divided fairly but not necessarily equal. This approach recognizes that each spouse has made valuable contributions to the marriage, whether financial or otherwise, and seeks to ensure that both parties walk away from the marriage without facing undue hardship.
Factors Considered in Equitable Distribution
The court considers various factors when determining a "fair" distribution. Some of these factors include:
- Duration of the Marriage: A longer marriage might mean assets are divided differently than in a shorter marriage.
- Age and Health of Both Parties: This can influence decisions, especially when considering future earning potential or medical needs.
- Income and Property: The court will examine the income and property brought into the marriage by each spouse and what was acquired during the marriage.
- Future Financial Circumstances: Potential future earnings, inheritances, and other financial prospects can play a role.
- Loss of Inheritance and Pension Rights: The court might consider what each party may have received if the marriage had continued.
- Any Likely Future Financial Circumstances: This includes the potential for inheritance or increased income.
Equal is not always Equitable: One of the most common misconceptions is that assets are split 50/50. While this might be true in some divorces, the goal is fairness, not equality. For instance, if one spouse sacrificed their career to raise children, the court might award them a more significant portion of the marital assets.
All Assets are Divided: Only marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. Separate property, which includes assets acquired before the marriage or gifts and inheritances received during the marriage, typically remains with the original owner.
Debts are Excluded: Just as assets are divided, so are debts. This includes mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, and other liabilities.
The Role of an Experienced Attorney
Navigating the complexities of equitable distribution requires a deep understanding of New York's divorce laws. An experienced family law attorney like Anthony LoPresti can provide invaluable guidance during this process. They can:
- Offer Expertise: Understand the nuances of the law and how it applies to your situation.
- Advocate for Fairness: Ensure you receive a just portion of the marital assets.
- Negotiate on Your Behalf: Work with your spouse's attorney to reach an agreement in your best interest.
- Provide Peace of Mind: Knowing you have an advocate in your corner can reduce the stress of the divorce process.
Divorce is a challenging journey, both emotionally and legally. Understanding the principles of equitable distribution can provide clarity during a tumultuous time. Remember, the goal is a fair division of assets, ensuring that both parties can move forward with their lives.
If you're facing a divorce and have concerns about the division of assets, it's crucial to seek legal counsel. The Law Office of Anthony LoPresti is here to help, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive a fair and just division of marital assets.
Take the first step towards a brighter future. Contact us today to discuss your situation and learn how we can assist you during this challenging time.
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