Property Division / Equitable Distribution

Among the many challenging aspects of divorce is the need to ensure your financial security for the next chapter of your life. One critical element of that process is arriving at an equitable division of marital property.

The division of property in divorce is often complicated, especially when spouses have a high net worth, or when they disagree on the value of an asset or even whether the asset is subject to division in divorce at all. At the Law Offices of Andreas Vasilatos, we approach the issue of property division in divorce with meticulous preparation and powerful advocacy for your rights in divorce.

How Property is Divided in a New York Divorce

New York is one of a majority of states in which marital property is subject to equitable distribution. Unlike community property states, in which marital property is divided equally, equitable distribution states like New York divide property in a way that is fair under all the circumstances.

If you and your spouse want to reach your own property settlement in New York, you are free to do that. It is important to have an attorney’s assistance with your property settlement to make sure that it is truly equitable and that you understand what you are getting and what you are giving up. For instance, some property depreciates, while other property increases in value. Two assets that have the same value today may have very different values in a few years. In addition, property division carries tax implications of which your attorney can make you aware.

Whether you reach a settlement or need a court to divide your property, there are a number of challenges to negotiate. The first is to determine what property is marital and what property is separate (not subject to division). Generally, property owned by one spouse before the marriage is separate, as is inherited property. However, depending on how separate property is handled during the marriage, it may become “commingled” with marital assets and be subject to division in divorce. There is also property that is partly separate and partly marital, like a retirement plan that one spouse had before marriage but continued to contribute to afterward.

The second challenge is determining the value of all marital assets. Some assets, like a bank account, are easy to determine the value of. Others, like a small business or an art collection, may be much more difficult to value. It may be necessary, depending on the type of asset, to have an appraiser or valuation expert involved in the case.

Once marital property has been identified and a value for all assets has been arrived at, the property must be divided equitably between the divorcing spouses. If you and your spouse are not able to reach a property settlement even with your attorneys’ help, the court will need to divide your property.

New York courts take several factors into account when deciding on a fair distribution of property, including:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s age and health
  • Each spouse’s income and earning power
  • Each spouse’s financial situation both at the time of the marriage and at the time of divorce
  • Whether either spouse is receiving spousal maintenance
  • Either spouse’s contributions to the marriage as a homemaker
  • If there are minor children, the need of the spouse with custody to continue to occupy the marital home with the children

An experienced attorney’s representation is essential at every step of the equitable distribution process, especially if the issue of property division must go before the court. A skilled attorney can help ensure that all marital property is identified and appropriately valued, and advocate persuasively for a favorable award for their client.

Property division, especially in a high net worth divorce, is one issue for which an attorney’s litigation background matters. Many attorneys who concentrate exclusively in matrimonial law have little trial experience, because the vast majority of divorce cases settle. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Andreas Vasilatos, PLLC, on the other hand, have extensive courtroom experience. They are well-equipped to advocate for their clients at trial if necessary and will never accept a settlement unless doing so is in their client’s best interest.

Work with a Knowledgeable New York Property Division Attorney

The Law Offices of Andreas Vasilatos, PLLC has two convenient locations: in Bayside, Queen, and at 7 World Trade Center in Manhattan. The firm serves clients in all five boroughs of New York City as well as Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. We invite you to learn more about our firm and our team, and to contact us to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.