Experienced Rochester Divorce Lawyer Explains Equitable Distribution in New York
The relevance of the ‘equitable distribution’ concept is strongly connected to divorce.
Given the prevalence of divorce between married couples and the economic nature of marriage in contemporary society, it has become essential to make sure that all parties to a divorce arrangement get what is due to them.
There’s absolutely no doubt that if the courts of law fail to intervene in the distribution of resources at the end of a marriage, injustice would be too frequent.
One of the best methods applied by most courts in the United States to distribute resources in the event of a divorce fairly is through Equitable Distribution.
This blog post defines equitable distribution as explained by Rochester Divorce Lawyer Michelle Cimino. It compares equitable distribution with other “post-marriage” distribution methods, and highlights the most important factors considered during a fair distribution process.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Like with many other legal concepts, there is no perfect definition for equal distribution. However, there is no need to search for a perfect definition when you have a framework that can give more than a fair understanding of the subject.
Equitable distribution is the division of property rights, obligations, and liabilities between parties to a divorce (spouses) by the courts of law. It is crucial to understand that the word “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” In this context, equitable should be understood as “fair.”
Back in the 1970s and the time before then, the distribution of property upon divorce was mostly unfair, especially to women. Most properties were held in the man’s name and remained in his possession in the event of a divorce. Therefore, women were left worse off at the end of a marriage.
Thankfully, the position of the law changed in 1980, and the New York legislature adopted an Equitable Distribution Law that recognized marriage as an economic partnership and gave judges the power to divide marital property equitably.
The difference between marital property and separate property in Equitable Distribution
A good understanding of the concept of fair distribution can be aided by understanding the difference between marital property and separate property.
Marital property means any property acquired during the marriage. Marital property includes everything a couple buys together during the marriage – cars, land, houses, shares, bonds, artworks. Couples can choose to restrict specific property from marital property by signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Separate property, on the other hand, refers to properties that an individual owns before or after marriage. Property like – gifts from third parties, inheritance, and any other property termed ‘separate’ by agreement fall under a separate property.
As earlier said, fair distribution is a means by which the court distributes resources between spouses who are getting divorced. Nonetheless, there is another method used by the courts to allocate resources in the event of a divorce.
Here’s a look at another distribution method in comparison with equitable distribution –
Community Property system
The community property system favors the equal division of marital property between spouses in the event of a divorce. All property between spouses is divided equally regardless of who brought in the money. For instance, let’s say a married couple includes a woman who works in a firm and earns money and a stay-at-home man who does not make money. There’s a high chance that the wife would purchase most properties. In the event of a divorce, it won’t matter who purchases the marital property because all of it will be divided equally amongst the couple.
This type of division (or distribution) takes no account of who contributed more to the marriage, or who is individually richer or most other factors considered by the equitable distribution system. There are currently nine states in the United States that still use the community property system.
The court would more often than not consider certain factors where equitable distribution is concerned. These factors are necessary because it helps the courts see how best to distribute marital property equitably. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of these factors –
- The financial power of the spouses. The courts are likely to give enough property to a financially disadvantaged spouse. Both current and probable financial status will be considered.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The age and health of both parties.
- The child custody arrangements. The courts would very likely give enough marital property to a spouse who takes custody of the child (ren), so they can meet the needs that custody demands.
- Any other factor that the court deems to be relevant to a genuinely fair distribution of marital property.
Where an equitable distribution system is applicable in a state, the courts allow parties to reach an agreement about how they want their marital property distributed. If both parties fail to reach an agreement, the courts will step in and use the factors mentioned above to distribute property equitably.
Equitable Distribution : Conclusion
Even in marriage, it is always essential to draw specific lines and make necessary agreements and other arrangements. These arrangements go a very long way in making divorce a little easier to deal with for all parties involved.
Are you currently looking to make marriage arrangements relating to the distribution of property? Are you now in a divorce and want to make sure you get your fair share of the marital property? Is any of this happening in NY, Rochester, or anywhere in the World?
Our dedicated Rochester Divorce Attorney can help.
Michelle Cimino of The Cimino Law Firm has significant experience in protecting clients’ property rights in marriage. We do this either by drafting ironclad agreements (prenuptial and postnuptial) or giving you the best representation you can get in court.
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