When a state is considered to be an equitable division state, which New York is, this means in the event of a divorce, each spouse owns the income he or she earned while married, and has the right to handle any property that’s in his or her name alone. While this seems fairly simple, it doesn’t always work out this way. It is up to the judge to make the deciding equitable division of assets and they are not always equal and both parties are not always going to like what the judge decides.

Equitable distribution in a divorce is supposed to ensure that both parties get an equal share of what they have contributed. In the state of New York, the judge has the final say and will render his decision based on the income and any properties owned by each spouse at the time of the marriage and the divorce, both spouse’s age and health, what the custodial parent will need to parent the child, alimony, and the future financial needs of each spouse.

Determining what is marital and what is separate is often the central issue in a disputed divorce. In a New York divorce, separate property needs to be identified, and if you claim that an item or asset is your separate property, you may have to prove it. Some couples have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that specifies how assets and debts are to be divided in the event of divorce. Typically, these documents are enforced unless one party can show why such an agreement should be voided or set aside. If there are no previous agreements, and if both divorcing spouses and their attorneys can agree upon the division and distribution of assets and debts, that settles the matter. If no agreement can be reached, the dispute goes before a judge.

In a New York divorce, the marital assets and debts are divided and distributed “equitably,” but equitably does not necessarily always mean “equally” in precise dollars and cents. The judge in a divorce is simply seeking to be fair to both sides, so what “equitably” really means is “fairly.” If you are divorcing in Westchester, Dutchess, Putnam, Orange, or Rockland County, or if you are anticipating a divorce, obtain the legal advice and services you need at once by contacting an experienced Peekskill divorce lawyer.

Property division and distribution can be exceedingly complicated, especially if a couples’ assets and property holdings are extensive. If at all possible, agreement between the parties should be reached through mediation. If you can settle any disputes then the judge will not become involved except to review a written separation agreement on how you want to divide your property. However, if you are divorcing in New York and you anticipate a dispute with your spouse over marital assets and debts, your future and your best interests will be at risk. You are going to need legal help from a divorce attorney with considerable experience in such cases. With the help of an experienced New York family law divorce lawyer, mediating and getting a decision that both parties agree on is not only possible, it is likely.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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